The Formosa Club and 926 lawmakers from 29 countries signed a letter advocating for Taiwan’s inclusion in the World Health Assembly (WHA) and all WHO meetings, mechanisms and activities, as the 76th WHA began yesterday.
Formosa Club cochairs and members, along with lawmakers from the European Parliament and parliaments of 28 European countries and Canada, jointly signed the letter sent on Friday.
The Formosa Club, inaugurated in 2019, is a platform for cross-party European and Canadian legislators to work to enhance relations with Taipei and connect Taiwan with the world.
Photo courtesy of the Taiwan United Nations Alliance
The signatories urged WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to invite Taiwan to participate as an observer in the WHA, the letter said.
Taiwan notified the WHO of suspicious cases of “atypical pneumonia” when most of the world was still unaware of COVID-19 and “impressed the world with its effective and resourceful control of the virus,” it said.
The nation also donated masks and medical supplies to more than 80 countries around the world during the early stage of the pandemic, when global supply chains were overwhelmed by the sudden spike in demand for epidemic prevention equipment, it said.
Photo: Screenshot from livestream
Taiwan’s success in combating the pandemic “demonstrated its capabilities and willingness to contribute to international public health,” it said.
“A comprehensive public health network cannot tolerate any breaches,” it said.
Taiwan also joined the international community in providing timely assistance to Ukrainian refugees, donating 27 tonnes of medical supplies and more than 700 tonnes of humanitarian relief supplies, it said.
Photo courtesy of the Taiwan United Nations Alliance
Taiwan also donated more than US$41 million to Ukraine’s neighboring countries to help settle refugees fleeing Russia’s invasion and a further US$2 million to three Ukrainian cities to help provide relief during the winter months, it said.
“Our collective efforts and solidarity remain essential if we are to uphold the universal values of freedom and democracy, and the rules-based international order,” it said.
Including Taiwan in the WHO system would help realize its goal of “health for all,” but failing to do so would be “unjust,” it said.
Taiwan’s exclusion would not only be detrimental to the health rights of Taiwanese, but also “denies the international community the opportunity of benefiting from Taiwan’s contributions,” it said.
In Taipei, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday on Twitter thanked the lawmakers for the letter, and asked Tedros: “Why not just let Taiwan help?”
Despite strong support from democratic allies around the world, Taiwan as of yesterday has not been invited to participate in this year’s assembly for the sixth consecutive year.
The WHA is to run until Tuesday in Geneva.
Minister of Health and Welfare Hsueh Jui-yuan (薛瑞元), who is leading a mission to Switzerland, held a news conference yesterday conveying Taiwan’s wish to participate in the WHO.
He also expressed regret and dissatisfaction that Taiwan has been excluded from taking part due to political interference.
The Republic of China was expelled from the WHO in 1972 after losing its UN seat to the People’s Republic of China over the issue of China’s representation.
Since then, Taiwan has not been able to attend the WHA due to objections by China, except from 2009 to 2016, when it was invited as an observer under the name “Chinese Taipei” during the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) administration.
Additional reporting by staff writer and CNA
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