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Health minister touts Taiwan's role in disease prevention

2018/05/21 13:03:51

Geneva, May 20 (CNA) Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said on Sunday that Taiwan is able to play an important role in global efforts to prevent the spread of communicable diseases.

In a reception held in Geneva by Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), Chen said the spread of communicable diseases around the world recognizes no borders, so as a hub in Asia with many international travelers coming and going, he believes Taiwan, which already boasts advanced medical services and technologies, plays an important role in preventing the spread of infectious diseases.

A delegation led by Chen arrived in Geneva on Saturday and will hold a series of events on the sidelines of the 71st annual meeting of the World Health Assembly (WHA), which Taiwan was not invited to attend as an observer for the consecutive second year due to opposition from China.

Addressing the reception, attended by representatives from Taiwan's 19 allies, Chen said the World Health Organization's (WHO) exclusion of Taiwan from the WHA meeting was unfair to Taiwan and also violated the WHO platform which designates health care as a universal value.

Chen said Taiwan's participation in the WHA has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with basic human rights.

Echoing Chen, Kalani Kaneko, health minister of the Marshall Islands, one of Taiwan's allies, said it is not only true that Taiwan needs the WHO but also that the WHO needs Taiwan, citing the theme of the 2018 WHA meeting: "Health for All, All for Health."

Kaneko said the leaders of every county in the world should promote health care as a universal value to everybody on the planet to realize the message of the WHA meeting.

Taiwan had hoped to attend the WHA as an observer, as it did from 2009 to 2016, but did not receive an invitation from the WHO because of opposition from China.

According to MOFA, at least 25 countries, friendly to Taiwan, will voice their support for Taiwan's WHA participation during this year's meeting, which will be held from May 21-26.

(By Tang Pei-chun, Ta Ya-chen and Frances Huang)