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Taiwan urges WHO to consider humanity, human rights

ROC Central News Agency

05/15/2020 09:18 PM

Taipei, May 15 (CNA) Taiwan's health minister on Friday urged the World Health Organization (WHO) to consider the factors of humanity and human rights in protecting world health, as he admitted the chances of Taiwan attending the international health body's annual assembly this year are slim.

The World Health Assembly (WHA), the policy-setting body of the WHO, is scheduled to hold its 73rd session in Geneva May 18-19 by videoconference. However, Taiwan still has not received an invitation from the WHO to attend, despite growing international support.

"We have yet to receive an invitation, but we will strive until the last minute because participating in the assembly is significant to Taiwan in terms of public health," Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said at a press conference in Taipei.

He pointed out that Taiwan has a great deal to share in the medical field, particularly in terms of the country's health insurance coverage, medical system and long-term care.

Taiwan also plays an important role in infectious disease prevention due to its position as an international transportation hub, Chen said.

Transmission chains of infectious diseases detected in Taiwan could be reported to the WHO far more precisely if Taiwan were to be a member of the organization, he argued.

"Organizations such as the WHO should protect global health by taking humanity and human rights into consideration," Chen said, reiterating that Taiwan's spirit of humanity and mutual assistance are worth sharing.

Although the chances of WHA participation by Taiwan this year are slim, the process of vying for participation has increased the country's visibility and has allowed it to establish closer cooperation with allies and like-minded countries, Chen said.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), 29 foreign governments had expressed support for Taiwan's participation in the WHA through various avenues as of Friday.

These include issuing statements, writing letters to the WHO, direct discussions with the WHO, making remarks during legislative sessions and answering questions from the media, MOFA said in a statement.

Several high-level foreign government officials have openly voiced support for Taiwan, MOFA added, citing U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as examples.

In addition, lawmakers from 43 countries have called for Taiwan's participation in the WHA and more than 600 politicians from other countries have written to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on the matter, MOFA said.

(By Wang Yang-yu, Chen Yun-yu and Emerson Lim)


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