Thu, May 15, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Chen thanks allies for all the support

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) has expressed his gratitude for the international support shown for the nation's efforts to join the WHO as an observer.

"The president would like to thank our international allies for their public support of our campaign to join the WHO," Presidential Office Spokesman James Huang (黃志芳) quoted Chen as saying during a routine meeting with local media at the Presidential Office yesterday morning.

Huang was referring to the recent calls made by US congressmen Sherrod Brown and Solomon Ortiz, both of whom have called on the US government to support Taiwan's bid to join the WHO's World Health Assembly (WHA) as an observer.

"I find it troubling that our government tacitly supports a policy that ensures the Taiwanese people are denied access to the newest medical treatments and procedures," Brown said in a statement made available by his office on April 9.

The denial of WHO membership to Taiwan is an unjustifiable violation of its people's basic right to good health, Brown said. "The people of Taiwan deserve participation in the WHO," he said.

Earlier this year, the US House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill that authorizes the US State Department to endorse and help obtain observer status for Taiwan at the annual week-long summit of the WHA.

This bill is another important step in fulfilling the commitment the US made in the 1994 Taiwan Policy Review to more actively support Taiwan's membership in organizations such as the UN and the WHO.

During a special briefing for the Taiwan press corps in Washington yesterday, Deputy Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific Randall Shriver revealed that the US is working closely with Taiwan to develop a strategy to promote the nation's bid for participation in next week's WHA meeting in Geneva.

Meanwhile, as the outbreak of SARS spread to southern Taiwan, Chen instructed the Cabinet to strengthen control and prevention measures at local medical institutions in order to prevent mass transmission.

"Although the outbreak seems to have subsided a little bit in northern Taiwan, we can never be complacent nor assured," Premier Yu Shyi-kun quoted Chen as saying yesterday morning after holding a videoconference with the president to discuss the development and impact of the SARS outbreak.

As Chen expressed concern over the funding and manpower of the SARS research task force headed by Academia Sinica President Lee Yuan-tseh (李遠哲), Yu said that the Cabinet will provide funding to the unit as soon as the legislature passes the Cabinet's NT$50 billion budget request.

The budget is earmarked to subsidize the medical expenses and mitigate the economic impact on industries affected by the outbreak.

Chen also asked the government to ensure an ample supply of medical equipment such as face masks, goggles and protective clothing.

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