Thu, May 23, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Allies and friends champion role of Taiwan in WHA

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter, with CNA, Geneva, Switzerland

Solomon Islands Minister of Health and Medical Services Dickson Mua Panakitasi, left, and Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung stand next to a banner that reads: “Health for all: Taiwan can help” at a bilateral forum near the venue of the World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, on Tuesday.

Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Health and Welfare

Thirteen allies and like-minded countries had as of Tuesday shown their support for Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Assembly (WHA), the WHO’s annual decisionmaking meeting.

After the US, Germany and the UK voiced their support as the WHA opened in Geneva, Switzerland, additional countries spoke out on Tuesday, the second day of the assembly.

During the fourth plenary meeting of the 72nd WHA, Palauan Minister of Health Emais Roberts thanked many nations, including the US and Japan, for providing health and infrastructure support to Palau, and took the time to highlight Taiwan’s contribution.

“There is one partner not present in this room and over the past three years since I’ve been here, I have not seen them. They have helped Palau achieve its SDG [UN Sustainable Development Goals] goals and also supported Palau for the past 20 years,” Roberts said.

“They are ranked ninth in the Bloomberg Health Efficiency Index. They are champions of universal healthcare and there are 23 million of them,” he said. “Thank you, Taiwan.”

“Palau does not dispute who is right or wrong in this arena. We all try to do the right thing, sometimes from a different perspective,” Roberts added.

“When we are gathered here at the WHA talking about universal healthcare, no one left behind, I believe that by excluding Taiwan from sharing their success in the WHA, it is not Taiwan who is left behind, but us at the WHA. Palau believes Taiwan can help,” he said.

Canadian Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam voiced her country’s indirect support for Taiwan during the plenary meeting.

“The global community has made great strides in improving the health of populations. We should be proud of that, but there is still more to do,” Tam said. “To achieve our goal, we need to work together to see beyond our differences. Politics should not impede people’s access to the global health system.”

“Canada remains committed to building a health community where everyone is included, regardless of who they are or where they live,” she added.

Honduran Secretary of Health Claudia Quiroz said that to achieve the SDGs and other global health agenda targets, her country must work together at the national and international levels.

It is important to highlight the continuing and indispensable support provided to Honduras by certain governments, including Taiwan, a partner and an ally in the promotion of health for many years, Quiroz said, adding that developing a healthier world clearly means leaving no one behind.

Guatemalan Minister of Health Carlos Enrique Soto Menegazzo lauded Taiwan’s contributions in the healthcare sector.

He thanked Taiwan for having collaborated with Guatemala in broadening health coverage for pregnant women and for providing medical supplies that have allowed the country to improve its health system and enhance emergency preparedness, as well as developing strategies for addressing communicable and non-communicable diseases.

Earlier that day, during the third plenary meeting, Japanese Vice Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare Shintani Masayoshi said that regions should not be left out and denied the right to participate, even as observers.

“We think that questions relating to global health cannot be dealt with simply on the basis of political concerns. We believe therefore that the participation of Taiwan as an observer here is essential to help us achieve the goals of this organization,” Paraguayan Minister of Health Julio Mazzoleni said.

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