Taiwan plays 'anger' card in bid to join WHA - Focus Taiwan

Taiwan plays 'anger' card in bid to join WHA

Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中)
Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中)

Taipei, May 16 (CNA) The Taiwanese government and people are angry that they will get another cold shoulder when this year's World Health Assembly (WHA) goes into session May 21 in Geneva, so their officials, as well as civic group leaders, will vent the country's frustrations at the unfair treatment in that city.

Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who is leading a delegation May 18 that will show Taiwan's presence in health affairs outside the WHA conference hall, said Wednesday that "we'll no longer play the pathetic card this time around. Instead, we'll play the angry card to show our soft power (in health care) to the world."

Taiwan had not received an invitation to attend the 2018 WHA meetings when the deadline passed May 7, the second year in a row it has been snubbed, due mainly to China's intervention.

China said Taiwan should not get invited because the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government does not recognize the "1992 consensus" on one China, and it ridiculed Taiwan for trying to "act in a pathetic way" in order to win sympathy from the world community, Chen told the press.

"WHA meetings have nothing to do with politics," Chen asserted, adding that health care is a basic human right and that "no holes should be allowed" in building the global network for providing health care to all and preventing the spread of infectious diseases.

"If Taiwan is kept outside this network, it does not simply hurt Taiwan. The whole world gets hurt as well," said the minister.

Asked what will he do in Geneva if he has a chance to meet with Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, secretary-general of the World Health Organization, which organizes the WHA's annual meeting May 21-26, Chen said he will ask him what has happened to the WHO's basic tenet of universal health coverage and why the 23 million people of Taiwan have been left out.

Even if no such dramatic meeting takes place, Chen said he will join various Taiwanese civic groups in holding 59 bilateral meetings with health authorities and organizations of other countries to forge real cooperation agreements, as Taiwan has enough medical and health care strength to show off its real soft power in this field.

The Taiwanese health officials and medical professionals are scheduled to join forums on oral health care for seniors, resistance to antibiotics, strengthening health care systems through partnerships and various other topics.

Taiwan launched its efforts to join the global health care system in 1997 but did not get invited to attend the WHA as an observer until 2009, when the Kuomintang was the ruling party. In 2017, by which time the DPP was in power, Taiwan was left out again.

(By Chen Wei-ting and S.C. Chang)


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