Several members of the US Congress on Friday introduced a bill to establish a “US-Taiwan Infectious Disease Monitoring Center” that would work with Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for the early detection of infectious diseases in the region.
The planned center would operate under the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), according the proposed US-Taiwan Public Health Protection Act.
It would be staffed by US government employees, including at least three infectious-disease experts from the US Department of Health and Human Services, and at least one staff member from another federal department, the bill says.
It could also employ Taiwanese and CDC personnel, said a news release issued by US Senator Tom Cotton, a Republican, who introduced the bill along with US Representative Ro Khanna, a Democrat, and others.
The bill would seek the appropriation of US$1.6 million for the fiscal year 2022 and US$1.35 million each year from 2023 to the US Department of State and the AIT to be used for personnel and management expenses related to the center.
“The center shall seek to partner with Taiwan’s CDC to conduct health monitoring of infectious diseases in the region by regularly monitoring, analyzing and disseminating open-source material from countries in the region, including viral strains, bacterial subtypes and other pathogens,” the bill says.
It would also monitor infectious diseases originating in the region, contact regional medical and health officials, and provide expertise on health threats to the US and Taiwanese governments, it says.
“Our bill will ensure the United States has the resources it needs to monitor health threats emerging in the Indo-Pacific and will allow Taiwan to share its knowledge with the world,” Cotton said.
“For too long, the United States has been myopically focused on traditional national security issues and it has hurt our ability to promptly respond to new threats like the COVID-19 pandemic. We must learn from countries like Taiwan that grasped the dangers of this pandemic early on and had success in suppressing it,” Khanna said.
Other cosponsors of the bill are Democratic US senators Catherine Cortez Masto and Jeff Merkley, Republican US Senator Marco Rubio and Republican US Representative Michael Waltz.
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