Sun, Jul 06, 2003 - Page 4 News List

MOFA says thanks for help with SARS

By Monique Chu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday welcomed the World Health Organization's (WHO) announcement to remove Taiwan from its list of areas with local transmission of SARS, while calling on the world body to enhance ties with Taiwan in the post-SARS era.

Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Tou Chou-seng (杜筑生) invited Taipei-based foreign diplomats to the ministry's office yesterday afternoon to express the government's gratitude for the support received from various nations during the crisis.

Taiwan also appreciated the international community's show of understanding about the travel restrictions and quarantine measures the government has imposed on foreign nationals in an attempt to bring the disease under control, the ministry said in a statement.

"In particular, we would like to thank the United States, Canada, Japan, Singapore, Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, the United Kingdom and The Netherlands," the ministry said.

The ministry also extended its gratitude to the WHO for dispatching disease experts to Taiwan, as well as for providing material support to Taiwan in the battle against SARS.

The first imported SARS case in Taiwan was reported on March 14. The ministry said that the outbreak of SARS across national borders has taught us that no nation can stand alone in the fight against the flu-like disease, and called on the WHO to abide by a recently passed resolution to continue cooperation with Taiwan.

"The government ... hopes that the WHO will abide by the resolution on SARS passed by the World Health Assembly (WHA) on May 28, 2003 to continue cooperating with Taiwan, and that the WHO will invite Taiwan to participate in SARS-related projects in order to prevent the resurgence of this epidemic," the ministry said.

The WHA, the WHO's highest decision-making body, passed the resolution that officials said could serve as a legal basis for future exchanges between Taiwan and the WHO on SARS prevention and containment.

The WHA resolution -- which passed easily with the input from the US, Japan and Taiwan's allies -- required the WHO'S director-general to "respond appropriately to all requests for WHO assistance for SARS surveillance, prevention, and control."

South Korean tuberculosis expert, Lee Jong-wook, will replace Gro Harlem Brundtland as head of the organization this month.

The foreign affairs ministry yesterday expressed its hope that the threat of SARS would motivate the WHO to consider including Taiwan in the world health system so as to make the global disease-prevention network more complete and comprehensive.

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