Taiwan is seeking to participate in the 71st World Health Assembly (WHA), to be held in Geneva, Switzerland from May 21 to 26, 2018. As an important member of the global health network, Taiwan was unjustly denied attendance to last year’s WHA. Political grounds were obviously the reason behind the snub. And Taiwan wants to rectify this mistake.
The enjoyment of good health is one of the universal human rights of every person without distinction of race, religion, political belief or social status. It is morally wrong for any country or organization to deprive the 23 million Taiwanese people of their fundamental health rights to participate in 2018 WHA and gain access to vital information on the prevention of disease and epidemics. Virus infection knows no borders. Only when every member of the international community is included in this collective fight against diseases, the avoidance of global pandemic outbreak can be secured.
Taiwan also intends to make contribution to WHA. The island is one of the key health providers for many developing countries and small island states. Taiwan not only built many hospitals and clinics around the world, but also routinely sent medical missions and volunteer doctors to ally countries. Saint Lucia is among the beneficiaries of Taiwan’s medical assistance. Each year Taiwan offers medical scholarship to Saint Lucian students, the first batch of six students just graduated in 2017. Meanwhile St. Jude Hospital established cooperative agreement with Taiwan’s Changhua Christian Hospital; the Taiwanese side arranges its volunteer doctors to visit Saint Lucia each year to perform free medical services. And St. Jude Hospital regularly sends its staff to Taiwan for professional training.
As a matter of fact, Taiwan participated in the annual WHA as an observer from 2009 to 2016 following 38 years of exclusion. Its involvement is widely recognized as helping strengthen global disease prevention efforts and safeguard global health security. But last year,
Taiwan was denied invitation to
attend WHA, and was excluded from full participation in related World Health Organization (WHO) technical meetings. This created serious gaps in the global health security system and threatens people’s right to health.