Tue, May 21, 2019 - Page 2 News List

WHO exclusion presents an Olympics risk: Chen

Staff writer, with CNA, GENEVA, Switzerland

Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung reads netizens’ feedback in a van in Geneva, Switzerland, yesterday.

Photo courtesy of Ministry of Health and Welfare

Taiwan’s exclusion from the WHO’s global epidemic prevention system could adversely affect next year’s Olympics, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said.

In an interview with Japan’s Kyodo News in Geneva, Switzerland, published on Sunday, Chen said that Taiwan is a transportation hub in East and Southeast Asia, and excluding it from the WHO’s health and safety system could create a loophole for infectious disease control.

Taiwan is not a member of the WHO and it has been blocked by China from attending the World Health Assembly (WHA), the WHO’s highest decisionmaking body, for a third straight year.

Chen is in Geneva to make Taiwan’s case for participation in the WHA while it is being held from yesterday to Tuesday next week.

He and his delegation are to hold meetings with other countries’ representatives on the sidelines of the global gathering.

Excluded from the global system, Taiwan is willing to fully cooperate with Japan in building a disease prevention system ahead of next year’s Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, Chen said, adding that it is vital for proper disease prevention measures to be in place before the Games.

Taipei also looks forward to building a bilateral disease prevention mechanism to facilitate exchanges of information, Chen said.

One of Taiwan’s standard arguments for meaningful participation in the WHA is that it can make valuable contributions to global health, and Taiwan would be an important partner in strengthening global disease prevention, Chen said.

That includes the positive role Taiwan could play in dealing with the measles outbreak that is affecting some Asian countries, Chen said, citing the nation’s good vaccination rate.

The minister also reiterated repeated requests by Taiwanese officials to be allowed back into the WHA, saying it was unjust to exclude Taiwan.

A civic group called the Taiwan United Nations Alliance is also in the city to push Taiwan’s desire to take part in the WHA and WHO.

Alliance members on Saturday distributed 5,000 campaign pamphlets and leaflets in four languages, and draped five taxi bikes outside the WHA venue near Lake Geneva with the slogans “Health for All” and “Taiwan Can Help.”

From 2009 to 2016, Taiwan attended WHA meetings as an observer under the name “Chinese Taipei” during the administration of China-friendly former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).

Taiwan’s exclusion is part of China’s strategy to further clamp down on Taiwan’s ability to participate in international events, a strategy that has become more aggressive since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office in May 2016.

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