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Disease knows no boundaries or politics: health minister

2018/05/21 22:26:54

Geneva, May 21 (CNA) Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) criticized the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday for sidelining Taiwan at this year's World Health Assembly (WHA), arguing that disease knows no boundaries or politics.

Speaking at a press event in Geneva, Chen said the health organization went against its own principle of enhancing and promoting health equality as a universal value.

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

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

Citing the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 as an example, the minister said the country, which has been politically isolated on the international stage, was not able to get instant disease information from the outside when it most needed help.

Disease knows no boundaries or politics, and Taiwan should not be deprived of its participation in the global health network.

Taiwan must let the world know that it is wrong to deprive the 23 million people in Taiwan of their access to "universal health coverage," he said, reiterating that such rights should not be subjected to political interference.

Meanwhile, at the Broken Chair plaza in the Palace of Nations, hundreds of Taiwanese expatriates gathered to lend their voice for Chen and his delegates in Geneva, shouting "WHO for Taiwan" and "Taiwan go, go, go."

Arriving at the scene after the press event, Chen thanked the expatriates for their support, saying he was moved by their presence.

"The more we are oppressed, the louder we become. Our voices will not be buried," he said.

(By Tang Pei-chun, Tai Ya-chen and Ko Lin)