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Taiwan's exclusion from WHA a shame: eSwatini health minister

2018/05/23 22:45:06

Sibongile Ndlela-Simelane/ Image taken from the World Health Organization's official website

Geneva, May 23 (CNA) eSwatini's representative to the 71st World Health Assembly (WHA) said during her speech at the plenary meeting on Wednesday that it was a shame Taiwan was being left behind for political reasons.

Sibongile Ndlela-Simelane, health minister of the southern African country known until recently as Swaziland, said Taiwan should have the opportunity to "participate in all World Health Organization (WHO) meetings, including the WHA, in order to learn and share experiences with other countries."

The health minister, whose country has had diplomatic ties with Taiwan for 50 years, said the United Nations' sustainable development goal of universal health coverage for all encompasses everyone, including Taiwan's 23 million nationals.

She said the WHO was taking a "political position" in excluding Taiwan and giving in to Beijing's demands.

The WHO's mission is about health, not politics, Ndlela-Simelane said.

During the plenary meeting, several representatives of Taiwan's diplomatic allies, including St. Christopher and Nevis, Paraguay, Nicaragua, the Solomon Islands, and Haiti, advocated for its inclusion in WHO-related activities.

Eugene Hamilton of St. Christopher and Nevis related how medical cooperation between his country and Taiwan had created a basic preventative system for dealing with chronic kidney disease and said he hoped Taiwan would have a chance to share such developments with the rest of the world.

Carlos Saenz of Nicaragua and Kaitu'u Angikimua Tautai of the Solomon Islands expressed similar sentiments, saying they hoped Taiwan's 23 million people would not be excluded from the WHA in the future.

Kaitu'u said the decision to exclude Taiwan affected not just the people of Taiwan but also those from other countries, including his own.

Meanwhile, Paraguay's Minister of Health Carlos Morinigo called for Taiwan's participation in the WHA as an observer, as was done from 2009 to 2016, in order to help strengthen the health care systems in many other countries, including Paraguay.

Marie Greta Roy Clement of Haiti in her speech said the world was becoming a global village, in which everyone shared the riches and the burdens.

To that end, she said, Haiti regrets that Taiwan could not participate in the WHA as an observer this year.

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