The Taiwan Association for Global Health Diplomacy (臺灣世衛外交協會) in Taipei yesterday announced its official founding, saying that one of its main goals is to earn international support for Taiwan’s admission into the WHO.
As Taiwan has faced difficulty participating at the WHO and attending its annual World Health Assembly (WHA) due to many years of Chinese pressure, a group of young Taiwanese with professional backgrounds launched the task force in May to help increase the nation’s visibility by showcasing the nation’s achievements in public health and medicine.
Association chairperson Chiang Kuan-yu (姜冠宇), a physician, said that the group has registered to become an non-governmental organization formed by young people in the healthcare, social welfare, public relations, design, engineering and technology professions, among others, to help Taiwan form sustainable international cooperation on public health issues.
Taiwan is important in the Asia-Pacific in terms of medical professionals and transportation density, but leaving it out of the WHO’s surveillance, notification and reporting system has increased health risks for Taiwanese, Chiang said.
The SARS outbreak in 2003 caused dozens of deaths, while tuberculosis cases brought in from China last year are examples of when the WHO notified China, but not Taiwan, causing delayed responses in disease prevention and control, he said.
The association’s goal is to use innovative technology and creative marketing to promote Taiwan’s medical and public health achievements and help localize the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Twu Shiing-jer (涂醒哲) said that in 1995 when he was director of the Taipei Department of Health, he was among several government officials and dozens of Taiwanese holding banners outside the WHA in Geneva, Switzerland, protesting against Taiwan’s exclusion.
When he was one of the five who were finally allowed to enter the meeting, they were playing a video introducing Taiwan as the first country to implement a nationwide hepatitis B vaccination program.
“Even with Taiwan’s achievements being recognized by the world, we were still not allowed to enter the WHO,” Twu said, adding that it has taken many years of hard work to see other nations support Taiwan to attend the WHO.
“It is great to see young members of this association continuing that effort,” he said.
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