Delegation to leave for WHA meeting tomorrow

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Thu, May 17, 2018 - Page 1

Despite the lack of an official invitation, a Taiwanese delegation is to leave at midnight tomorrow for the World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, Switzerland, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said yesterday.

The government will work with health and medical associations from around the world to host forums outside the assembly meeting that focus on issues related to antibiotic resistance, dental care for elderly patients and strengthening healthcare systems, said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who is to lead the delegation.

The topic of this year’s WHA meeting is universal health coverage and as Taiwan is a world leader in universal health coverage, it us to jointly host with the World Medical Association a forum on the topic, he said.

Chen also responded to a statement by China’s Taiwan Affairs Office yesterday, which said that Taiwan did not receive an invitation because the Democratic Progressive Party government refuses to acknowledge the so-called “1992 consensus,” and accused Taiwan of “playing the sympathy card” to gain support from other nations.

“We are going to the WHA to make contributions and are not playing the ‘sympathy card,’” Chen said. “We are playing the ‘anger’ and ‘soft power’ cards. [China] should not use politics to harm the interests of Taiwanese.”

The “1992 consensus” refers to a tacit understanding between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party that there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation as to what “China” means.

The government is dissatisfied and disappointed at the lack of an invitation, Chen said, adding that the nation’s allies are to make strongly worded statements at the assembly to protest the decision to exclude Taiwan.

Nevertheless, the delegation would seek to have more exchanges with healthcare officials worldwide to teach more nations about Taiwan’s medical achievements, Chen said.

Although Taiwan is not a WHO member, it would score 85 points on the organization’s public risk indicator, which would place it in the same category as Japan, South Korea, Canada, Singapore and other nations with quality healthcare systems.

“If I run into the WHO secretary-general this year, I will directly ask him why his organization decided to disregard the health of 23 million Taiwanese,” Chen said.