Mon, May 02, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Doctor-driven NGO backs Taiwan's latest WHO bid

By Wang Hsiao-wen  /  STAFF REPORTER

In the lead-up to the World Health Organization meeting next month, the World Medical Association renewed its pledge to bolster Taiwan's ninth observer status bid, saying that it will propose a resolution on the floor of the forthcoming World Health Assembly in Geneva in support of Taiwan's observership.

"There is no justifiable reason to exclude Taiwan [from the WHO]," said Dr. Yoram Blachar, the council chairman of the World Medical Association, a non-governmental organization.

"As we did last year, we will propose a resolution to support Taiwan's observership at the WHO," Blachar said in an interview with the Taipei Times.

Founded in 1947, the association is a global representative body made up of physicians. The association says it represents approximately 8 million of the world's 9 million physicians in 84 member nations.

A longtime strategic partner of the WHO, association has helped the UN body launch various global programs, including the Tobacco Control Project and the Safe Injection Global Network.

Excluding Taiwan from global networks that deal with epidemic prevention endangers not only health of people of Taiwan but also the rest of the world, Blachar said.

"SARS is the best example. If a Taiwanese person gets sick, it is very likely that the virus will spread across borders to other nations. It is a lesson we ought to learn from," he said.

In his capacity as both the chairperson of the association and president of the Israeli Medical Association, Blachar wrote a letter to WHO director-general Lee Jong-wook (李鍾郁) two weeks ago to urge that Taiwan's status be on the WHA's agenda.

"The best thing will be granting Taiwan the membership. If that seems difficult for the WHA, member nations should at least fulfill Taiwan's modest expectation to become an observer," he said.

Were it not for China's opposition, Blachar said, Taiwan could have entered the WHO a long time ago and made contributions to the world.

"Political animosity should not come before health affairs. When physicians took the Hippocratic Oath, we knew that the obligation of the medical profession is to save lives and help patients, regardless of nationality," he said.

"China is wrong to put pressure on Taiwan at the WHO," said Lea Wapner, the secretary-general of the Israeli Medical Association.

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