Fri, Feb 01, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Expert says Taiwan must have role in world health body

Staff writer, with CNA

A visiting health expert yesterday expressed support for Taiwan’s participation in the WHO, saying that Taiwan must be part of the global community for the surveillance and detection of disease.

Taiwan “must participate in the surveillance and early detection of diseases that might represent threats,” said Ronald Waldman, a professor of global health at The George Washington University in Washington.

Waldman said he was happy that Taiwan has obtained observer status in the World Health Assembly (WHA), the WHO’s governing arm.

“I hope it can be extended to other technical areas,” he said, declining to elaborate.

Waldman is part of a delegation of experts on UN affairs, led by Mildred Espinoza, general manager of New York-based South-South News, which provides daily coverage of UN development and global issues, that arrived in Taipei on Monday for a week-long visit.

Allowing Taiwan to participate in the WHA and learn about international standards it can apply at home contributes to the protection of Taiwanese as well as people from other countries, he said.

He also gave the thumbs-up to the National Health Insurance program, which covers more than 90 percent of the population. The essence of good public health means universal health coverage and access for all, he said, adding that health issues are also an important part of the UN’s development goals.

Espinoza said Taiwan has been at the forefront in pushing the agenda of UN Millennium Development Goals.

The idea of continuing to work with its global partners is something Taiwan can “continue to do in order to move [Taiwan’s] efforts to the agenda” of eventual participation in UN activities, she said.

Taiwan has been seeking meaningful participation in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the International Civil Aviation Organization in recent years.

The delegation visited the International Cooperation and Development Fund, a government-funded agency that handles Taiwan’s assistance projects in developing countries.

“It shows Taiwan’s commitment to the global community,” Espinoza said, after learning about Taiwan’s efforts to help developing countries.

Obadias Ndaba, president of the UN-based World Youth Alliance, also recognized Taiwan’s efforts to help developing countries.

It is important that Taiwan shares with other developing countries its experience of transforming into a developed country in just a few decades, he said.

The development goals that UN members agreed to try to achieve by 2015 are combating poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation and discrimination against women, as well as reducing child mortality rates.

The delegation has visited the Civil Aeronautics Administration, the Environmental Protection Administration and the Department of Health, to learn more about the country’s efforts to expand its participation in international organizations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

The group is scheduled to leave tomorrow.

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