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Health ministers speak in support of universal health care at WHA

2018/05/23 20:19:05

CNA file photo

Taipei, May 23 (CNA) The health ministers of three major Western democracies have spoken in support of universal health coverage for all, which is the theme of this year's assembly.

They made the remarks in the wake of Taiwan being excluded from participating in this year's World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva.

However, none of the ministers made any direct reference to Taiwan.

At the WHA's second plenary meeting on Monday, Canadian Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor reaffirmed that Canada upholds the principles of universality in addressing health issues and global health inequalities and recognizes the transboundary nature of disease.

"As such, we believe its important that all members of the global community be part of discussions on global health," Taylor said.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn said his country has a longstanding tradition of commitment to achieving universal health coverage globally.

"Health for all also means there can be no white spots on the road map," Spahn said, explaining that "the challenges posed by global health do not stop at borders."

During his speech he explained that the WHO should be open to all who could contribute to global health and help to solve its challenges.

"Consequently, the WHO should be a place for all relevant players who are able to make a contribution to solving them," he said.

New Zealand Health Minister David Clark also reinforced his country's commitment to universal health coverage, regardless of gender, race or politics.

"The health and well-being of people is more important than the government agencies that plan and deliver them," Clark said.

He said politics should not hinder health and that there is no room for politics in the consideration of health in a global environment.

"Health should be something that is above politics, independent from the different shades of political thought that politics and politicians bring to the table," Clark said.

Due to pressure from Beijing, Taiwan was unable to attend the WHA -- the decision making body of the WHO -- in 2017 and 2018, despite having taken part in WHA meetings as an observer from 2009-2016, when the Kuomintang was in power and cross-Taiwan Strait relations were more amicable.

The 71st WHA officially opened Monday and will run through Saturday.

(By William Yen)