Health authorities recently received the password for the International Health Regulations (IHR) information portal, formally completing the country’s accession into the global health management framework, a local health official said on Tuesday.
National Public Health Command head Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) was authorized to use the password to access the IHR Event Information Site at the end of last month, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Shih Wen-yi (施文儀) said.
After receiving the password, Chuang posted information on a communicable disease in Taiwan that was imported from China, which brought an immediate response from WHO officials asking for further clarification, Shih said.
Through its accession to the IHR, a framework under the WHO devised to control the spread of infectious diseases around the globe, Taiwan will for the first time be able to directly contact the world health body and get first-hand information about topics such as avian flu prevention and control, food security and the spread and control of epidemic diseases.
Because of China’s opposition, Taiwan had previously been excluded from the IHR, even though a “universal application” phrase was added to the regulations in 2005 with the support of the US and Taiwan’s diplomatic allies and the encouragement of the EU and Japan.
Taiwan had previously only been able to obtain information on outbreaks of communicable diseases or emergencies in the region, including in China and Hong Kong, on a second-hand basis.
The WHO notified the Department of Health in a letter in January that Taiwan would be included in the IHR framework.
It also said the WHO would dispatch specialists to Taiwan or invite Taiwanese representatives to meetings called by the WHO in the event of any public health emergencies in Taiwan that are of international concern.