Health minister vows to continue efforts to attend WHA

04/24/2019 06:00 PM
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Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中, front)
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中, front)

Taipei, April 24 (CNA) Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) vowed Wednesday that he will work until the last minute to secure an invitation for Taiwan to attend this year's World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva.

"We will continue working until 'the last minute,' although there is less than a month to go before this year's WHA (to be held May 20-28)," he said.

"I will lead a delegation and depart for the WHA on May 17 as scheduled, even if we have not received an invitation from the organization by that time," he told reporters.

"We are slated to deliver a protest letter to the WHA to highlight Taiwan's stance and its sovereignty," the minister said.

Stressing that "Taiwan needs the WHA and vice versa," Chen said "the country has not only contributed substantially to the the global network of medical care and disease prevention, it is also willing to help developing countries in need."

From 2009-2016, Taiwan took part in the WHA as an observer, but the country was unable to attend the annual event in 2017 and 2018 due to opposition from China.

Meanwhile, Taiwan business people in Malaysia issued a statement Tuesday, urging the international community to support Taiwan's participation at the WHA -- the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO) -- on the grounds that the WHO needs Taiwan as part of its efforts to build a sound global health network.

As an area highly prone to natural disasters, Taiwan has abundant experience in coping with catastrophes, and the country can contribute extensively to the WHO's Health Emergencies Programme, the statement said.

Taiwan Representative to Malaysia Anne Hung (洪慧珠) told CNA that work on medical care and health protection knows no borders, with collective efforts required to ensure epidemics likes SARS (severe cute respiratory syndrome) do not repeat.

"Taiwan can help" will be the message the country will relay to the WHA this year, she noted.

(By Flor Wang and Soh Li nah)


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