Nation may join body as`Public Health of Taiwan'

By Chang Shih-hsin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Sun, May 05, 2002 - Page 1

The government is trying to find ways to communicate with US officials in the hope of gaining their support for Taiwan's bid to obtain observer status in the WHO as a "functional health entity" under the name "Public Health of Taiwan," a source close to the effort said.

The annual WHA meeting will take place in Geneva, Switzerland, from May 13 till May 18.

A source familiar with Taiwan's efforts toward participation in the WHO says that the bid has gained momentum this year following supportive declarations by several nations, either openly or through private channels.

The source claims, however, that assistance from the US is a factor crucial to the success of the bid.

Reports say that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Health are adopting the same method that led to Taiwan's participation in APEC and the WTO. Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Kao Ying-mao (高英茂) therefore issued a public statement last month saying that Taiwan will apply for participation as a "functional health entity."

Foreign ministry officials point out that, as the WHO is a UN agency, the obstacles to Taiwan joining under its official name of Republic of China are too high. Based on practical considerations, the ministry has therefore never considered applying under that name. Reports indicate that "Public Health of Taiwan" is currently acceptable to all parties since Taiwan this year is basing its WHO application on gaining the basic human right to medical care, and because the name clearly differentiates Taiwan from China.

Translated by Perry Svensson