Taiwan can help fight Ebola: MOFA

07/19/2019 05:23 PM
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Photo for illustrative purposes only / Image taken from Pixabay.
Photo for illustrative purposes only / Image taken from Pixabay.

Taipei, July 19 (CNA) Taiwan has the ability to contribute to the control and prevention of Ebola, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Thursday, following a World Health Organization (WHO) announcement that the disease is now an international health emergency.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared Wednesday the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, a designation the WHO rarely introduces.

This is only the fifth time the agency has made the declaration following the swine flu epidemic of 2009, the spread of polio in 2014, the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa and the Zika virus epidemic of 2016.

As to whether Taiwan will make a donation to the WHO to curb the epidemic, the ministry said it will consider doing so -- as long as the WHO highlights Taiwan's contributions in advancing global disease control and prevention.

In December 2018, Taiwan abandoned a planned US$1 million donation to the WHO to combat Ebola, citing political factors.

According to Bob Chen (陳龍錦), director-general of MOFA's Department of International Organizations, Taiwan and the WHO secretariat failed to reach consensus on how the country could make the donation while upholding its national dignity.

Taiwan had hoped to attend World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the WHO, as an observer this year, as it did from 2009 to 2016, but failed to obtain an invitation for the third year in a row due to obstruction by China.

China has been taking a harder line on Taiwan's participation in international organizations since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the Democratic Progressive Party came to power in May 2016.

Also Thursday, MOFA urged the public to avoid unnecessary travel to the DRC, particularly Ituri, North Kivu in eastern DRC and the northern border of the African country.

Ebola, transmitted through direct contact with blood or other bodily fluids of infected people, has killed more than 1,600 people in the DRC since the most recent outbreak began in North Kivu in August last year and later spread to Ituri, according to the WHO.

(By Elaine Hou and Chung Yu-chen)


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