Mon, May 15, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Philippine lawmakers issue statement supporting Taiwan’s WHA attendance

Staff writer, with CNA

A group of Philippine lawmakers have issued a joint statement in support of Taiwan’s bid to attend this year’s World Health Assembly (WHA), the decisionmaking body of the WHO.

Online registration to attend the annual conference ended on May 8, but Taiwan did not receive an invitation by the deadline due to Beijing’s obstruction.

The joint statement said that as friends of Taiwan’s 23 million people, the Philippine lawmakers “strongly support Taiwan’s participation in the 70th WHA, which is scheduled to be held [on] May 22 in Geneva as an observer in accordance with the precedents of Taiwan’s previous continuous participation over the past eight years.”

Taiwan’s absence from the WHO would create a serious fissure in the global health system and carry significant risks, including the spread of epidemics and food insecurity, the statement said.

Taiwan administers the Taipei Flight Information Region, which sees more than 60 million incoming and outgoing passengers a year, and outbreaks of infectious diseases, such as MERS, Ebola or Zika, could be amplified by Taiwan’s critical position in the global transportation network, it said.

Nearly 1.25 million birds fly over Taiwan each year as they migrate from China, Japan and South Korea to Southeast Asia and Pacific island nations and, as Taiwan is an important stop for migratory birds, the risk of avian influenza outbreaks is considerable, the statement said.

“In terms of food security, in any country, manufactured food products use ingredients from around the world. Yet as the WHO noted in 2015, over 2 million people die annually from contaminated food or drinking water. Considering that Taiwan is the world’s 17th-largest exporter and 18th-largest importer of merchandise in 2015, global food safety would be difficult to manage and control if Taiwan was excluded,” it said.

“Therefore, the WHO needs Taiwan to build a robust global health system and Taiwan needs the WHO. Participation in the WHO over the past eight years has enabled Taiwan to share experiences with other countries, to report and receive disease prevention information promptly and to better contribute to health worldwide,” the statement said.

Taiwan’s continuous participation in WHA and other WHO-related mechanisms, meetings and activities “will further ensure the implementation of SDG 3 [Sustainable Development Goal 3] and serve the interests of all parties concerned: Taiwan, the WHO, and the international community as a whole,” it added.

“Our staunch support not only reflects the public opinion of the Filipino people across the Philippines, but also aims to urge relevant nations all over the world to echo our support for Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the WHA,” the joint statement said.

“Thereupon, we express our support for Taiwan to participate in the upcoming 70th WHA and beyond by signing this statement,” it added.

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