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Leaving no-one behind: #Taiwan participation in World Health Assembly

| May 5, 2017 | 0 Comments

Nine years ago, having garnered tremendous international support, Taiwan was invited by the World Health Organization (WHO) to attend the 62nd World Health Assembly (WHA) as an observer. Since then, Taiwan’s active participation in WHA and WHO technical meetings has improved disease control in Taiwan and around the world, as Taiwan is committed to assisting other countries that face health challenges to fulfill the WHO’s vision.

This year, Taiwan seeks to continue its professional and pragmatic participation in the WHO, so as to contribute to global efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goal N°3 by 2030: ensuring healthy lives and promoting wellbeing for all at all ages.

Since the inauguration of President Tsai Ing-wen in May 2016, cross-Strait relations have been cooling. In recent months mainland China has been sending signals it might impede Taiwan’s participation in international nonpolitical bodies such as the WHO. However, the WHO needs Taiwan to build a robust global health system, and Taiwan needs the WHO to report and receive disease prevention information promptly.

Taiwan’s absence from the WHO would create a serious fissure in the global health system and create significant risks such as the spread of epidemics and food safety hazards.

Taiwan administers the Taipei Flight Information Region, receiving 60 million incoming and outgoing passengers a year. An outbreak of an infectious disease such as MERS, Ebola or Zika would be amplified by Taiwan’s critical position in the global transportation network.

Moreover, Taiwan is an important intermediate stop for migratory birds. More than a million birds fly over Taiwan each year as they migrate from mainland China, Japan and South Korea on their way to Southeast Asia. The risk of avian influenza outbreaks is considerable.

In 2015, the WHO noted that over 2 million people die annually from contaminated food or drinking water. Considering that Taiwan is the world’s 17th largest exporter and 18th largest importer of merchandise in 2015, global food safety would be difficult to manage and control if Taiwan was excluded.

Taiwan’s continued participation in the WHA and other WHO-related mechanisms, meetings and activities serves the interests of all parties concerned: Taiwan, the WHO, and the international community as a whole.

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Category: A Frontpage, Taiwan

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