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Taiwan officially protests exclusion from 71st WHA meeting

2018/05/22 21:26:00

Geneva, May 22 (CNA) Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih- chung (陳時中) sent an official letter of protest late Monday to the World Health Organization (WHO) Secretariat after its last chance at attending this year's World Health Assembly (WHA), which is already underway, fell through earlier in the day.

A total of 15 WHO member-states, all of which are diplomatic allies of Taiwan, had proposed in the days leading up to the six-day meeting that Taiwan's participation as an observer should be added to the agenda for discussion.

The proposal was rejected shortly after the annual meeting commenced after debates were held at the WHA General Committee.

Now that Taiwan officially has no chance of attending the meeting, Chen has written an official letter to the WHO Secretariat expressing the country's disapproval and disappointment.

The letter also includes many examples of Taiwan's medical advances domestically and its contributions internationally, which would benefit discussion about providing universal health coverage for all, the theme of this year's meeting.

Speaking to the press Monday, Chen said it is ironic that universal health coverage keeps getting mentioned at the meeting but Taiwan, which has an abundance of experience to share on the matter, is being excluded.

While Taiwan may not be in attendance, WHO member-states are continuing to speak up for the country as the meeting progresses.

On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar spoke in front of the general assembly to express the U.S.'s disappointment at Taiwan's inability to attend.

He urged the WHO to remember its mission of health care and disease prevention that it promised to engage in with everyone in the world.

Representatives from Japan and Australia also remarked that nowhere should be left behind in a world where diseases know no boundaries.

Especially when the goal of "health for all" is difficult to achieve, inclusiveness is extremely important, said Glenys Beauchamp, Australia's representative at the WHA and its Department of Health secretary.

(By Tang Pei-chun, Tai Ya-chen and Kuan-lin Liu)
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