Department of Health (DOH) Minister Chiu Wen-ta (邱文達) on Tuesday urged the US to help Taiwan obtain observer status in the WHO’s Regional Office for the Western Pacific (WPRO) to widen Taiwan’s participation in the UN agency.
Chiu raised the issue during talks with US Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius on the sidelines of the World Health Assembly conference, which is being held in Geneva, Switzerland.
During the meeting, Chiu expressed his appreciation to the US government for its support for Taiwan’s bid to gain observership in the WHO.
To deepen its participation in the international body, Taiwan hopes to first become an observer at the WPRO. The WPRO is headquartered in the Philippines, where many regional medical and health summits are held, he said.
Without observer status in the WPRO, Taiwan can only send technical officials, not ministerial-level officials, to attend WPRO meetings, he said.
He also extended an invitation to Sebelius to attend a conference in Taiwan in July marking the 10th anniversary of the 2003 SARS outbreak, as well as the Global Forum for Health Leaders, which is slated to be held in November.
Chiu also conveyed his condolences over the loss of life resulting from a massive tornado that struck Oklahoma on Monday.
He also thanked Washington for the assistance it has given Taipei to help it deal with the current H7N9 avian influenza outbreak in China that is also impacting Taiwan.