Sun, Apr 08, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Allies speak out for WHA participation

PLAN B:Regardless of whether Taiwan receives an invitation to attend the assembly, the minister of health and welfare said he would meet with officials from other countries

Staff writer, with CNA

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je, front row third left, and Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung, front row third right, yesterday participate in an event in Taipei marking World Health Day.

Photo: Chien Jung-fong

A number of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies have sent separate proposals to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom asking that the nation be invited to attend this year’s World Health Assembly (WHA) as an observer, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.

Taiwan has yet to receive an invitation to the 71st WHA, to be held in Geneva, Switzerland, from May 21 to May 26, and it has officially asked its diplomatic allies to petition the international organization on its behalf, the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry would not disclose which allies were approached, but said that several countries with which Taiwan has diplomatic ties have written to propose “inviting Taiwan to participate in the WHA as an observer.”

Taiwan would continue to seek an invitation until the start of the assembly, even though the chance of obtaining one appears even slimmer than last year, a source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Taiwan attended the WHA for the last time in 2016 when, following the election of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), China stepped up pressure on international organizations to bar Taiwan from such events.

The statement called on the WHO to defend the professionalism of the field of medicine, saying the organization should not be swayed by some countries’ political objectives.

At an event marking World Health Day, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said that Taiwan’s medical capabilities mean it has much to contribute to the WHO.

The theme of this year’s World Health Day was universal health coverage and Taiwan is perfectly positioned to share insights about its healthcare system, which is rated one of the best in the world, Chen said.

Regardless of whether Taiwan receives an invitation to attend the WHA, Chen is to lead a delegation to Geneva and hold bilateral talks with countries attending the assembly, as he did last year.

Many countries have already agreed to hold discussions with Taiwan outside the WHA venue, sources said.

The Foundation of Medical Professionals Alliance in Taiwan on Thursday said that the EU, US and UK, Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand, Australia and Japan are all planning to speak up in favor of Taiwan being invited to attend this year’s WHA.

However, none of the countries and organizations have publicly expressed their intention to do so.

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