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Three allies back Taiwan's WHA participation at WHO board meeting

2019/01/27 14:35:11

CNA file photo

Taipei, Jan. 27 (CNA) Representatives from three diplomatic allies of the Republic of China (Taiwan) voiced their countries' support for Taiwan's participation in the World Health Assembly (WHA) at a World Health Organization (WHO) board meeting Saturday.

The government had previously decided not to press its allies to submit a proposal on Taiwan's WHA participation at Saturday's Executive Board meeting in Geneva, but eSwatini, Haiti and Paraguay still argued that Taiwan had a role to play in the WHA.

In his address to the board, Pierre André Dunbar, ambassador and permanent representative of Haiti to the United Nations and other international organizations in Geneva, said no country should be excluded from joining the WHA.

The exclusion of any country to the WHA, the WHO's highest decision-making body, would result in a missing link in the global health care system, he said.

Julio César Peralta Rodas, deputy permanent representative of Paraguay to the U.N., used an example of cooperation between Paraguay and Taiwan to highlight Taiwan's contributions in the health care field.

He said a program called the Health Information Management Efficiency Enhancement Project, agreed upon by the two sides in 2016, has been introduced in 23 health care facilities in Paraguay, helping them provide better quality and more efficient health services.

Meanwhile, Simon Zwane, eSwatini's principal secretary of the Ministry of Health, also praised Taiwan's technical assistance to his country and called Taiwan "a country that successfully attained universal health coverage."

With Taiwan's help, eSwatini (formerly known as Swaziland) has been able to improve its maternal and child health outcomes by strengthening his country's primary health care system, he said.

ESwatini therefore believes that Taiwan's expertise and "best practices in this area" should be shared worldwide in order to enrich this global approach.

ESwatini is Taiwan's only diplomatic ally on the WHO's 34-member Executive Board, but non-members such as Haiti and Paraguay are allowed to speak at the meeting, being held from Jan. 24 to Feb. 1, with the consent of the board's chairman.

Taiwan attended the WHA as an observer under the name Chinese Taipei from 2009 to 2016 with the help of the U.S. amid better relations with China during the previous Kuomintang (KMT) administration.

Since 2017, however, China has blocked the WHO from inviting Taiwan to attend in line with its hardline stance on cross-Taiwan Strait relations adopted after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the Democratic Progressive Party took office in May 2016.

Despite being excluded from the WHA sessions in 2017 and 2018, Taiwan sent delegations to Geneva both of those years to meet with officials from countries participating in the WHA and to protest Taiwan's exclusion.

(By Joseph Yeh)
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