As the cross-strait agreement on health cooperation has failed to make information on the H7N9 bird flu outbreak in China more accessible to Taiwan, the government should urge China to honor its promises under the accord and to seek help from the WHO and other countries to preempt a possible epidemic, academics said yesterday.
China has failed to abide by two provisions set forth in the 2010 Cross-Strait Cooperation Agreement on Medicine and Public Health Affairs to enable Taiwan to take precautionary actions to prevent the H7N9 virus entering the country, former Department of Health minister Twu Shiing-jer (涂醒哲) said.
Under the agreement, both parties are obligated to notify the other about communicable diseases that may constitute or have constituted serious emergent public health events at the earliest possible time and to continue communication and notification of relevant information, he said.
Upon the request of one party, the party on which side a serious epidemic occurs should make available information about the epidemic investigation and consider assisting the other side in understanding the epidemic situation on site, he added.
“With or without the agreement, China should allow on-site visits by health experts not only from Taiwan, but also from the WHO and other countries to assist in identifying the source of the epidemic,” Twu said.
President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration forsook the idea of WHO membership as it thought that signing the agreement would bring Taiwan under the umbrella of epidemic prevention, but now “that has been proved wrong,” Twu said.
Yesterday evening, the Centers for Disease Control said it would send staff to China to gain a better understanding of the situation, but did not reveal details such as who it would send, when the trip would begin and which areas it may inspect.
Considering the frequent exchange of travelers between Taiwan and China, the government has to get China to agree to allow Taiwanese health experts to go to China, Taipei Medical University professor Chang Wu-shou (張武修) said.
All information communicated to and received from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC) should be transmitted in real time to Taiwan, Chang said.
The government should also contact the WHO, the US and Japan, with whom Taiwan has signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in health issues, to seek their help in obtaining H7N9 prototype strains from China for the development of an influenza vaccine, Chang said.
Despite the Cross-Strait Cooperation Agreement on Medicine and Public Health Affairs, it is unlikely that China would be willing to provide Taiwan with H7N9 prototype strains, because, in its eyes, Taiwan is equivalent to Jiangsu Province and Zhejiang Province where cases of the H7N9 bird flu virus have been detected, he said.
Former health minister Yaung Chih-liang (楊志良) also called on China to improve its opaque handling of the disease and to follow the provisions set forth under the agreement and give first-hand information to Taiwan.
Taiwan would not have signed the agreement with China if the only information it could receive was from the Web site of China CDC, he said.
Yaung said the agreement, signed when he was in office, thoroughly covers the necessary scope of cooperation needed for the prevention and control of epidemics, but that China has to implement the provisions to make it effective.
FATAL FIRE: The health department is trying to contact the inspector who visited the site of the illegal nursing home to ask why they did not advise follow-up checks The Taipei City Government yesterday said that a health department inspector last year had visited the site of a long-term care facility in Neihu District (內湖) after receiving a report questioning its status. A fire broke out at the facility on Tuesday afternoon, killing three people. The Taipei Fire Department said that it received a report about a fire on the first floor of a four-story residential building on Kangning Road Sec. 1 at 2:38pm on Tuesday, firefighters arrived at 2:43pm and the fire was put out by 3:07pm. The firefighters found three men in beds and rushed them to hospital for
Taipei City Councilor Wang Hao (王浩) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) on Monday called for security improvements to the MRT, as fare evasion has increased more than 13-fold on the metropolitan railway system over the past five years. Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) has spoken out against fare evasion and other contraventions of MRT regulations, but since he took office in 2015 the number of contraventions has more than doubled, Wang said, adding that there were 537 cases in 2015 compared with 959 last year. A video was posted to YouTube in June showing people how to evade paying a fare,
FEELING MISUNDERSTOOD: Media speculation has fueled confusion about the KMT’s reasons for skipping a Chinese forum and delaying an AIT meeting, party sources said The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) on Sunday said that it is not seeking to improve relations with the US or China at the expense of the other, and that its relations with the countries would be topic-based. The party has faced questions over its foreign policy after it on Monday last week announced its withdrawal from the annual Straits Forum and delayed planned talks with the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT). The party has also taken a tough stance on the importation of US meat containing ractopamine, while also lambasting China for increasing its military activity in and around the Taiwan Strait. Following
Yuchi Township (魚池) fishers have appealed to the Nantou County Government for help in dealing with an invasive fish species in Sun Moon Lake (日月潭), where it has devastated the local ecosystem. Fishers at Sun Moon Lake have been using electrofishing in an attempt to eliminate the giant snakehead fish — found in Africa and Southeast Asia — but they have struggled to keep up with the growing population of the species, which breeds during September and October, the county government said on Monday. The county has contacted researchers at National Tsing Hua University, saying it hoped they could come up