8 countries call for Taiwan's WHA participation

05/18/2020 03:41 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Toronto, May 17 (CNA) Eight countries friendly to Taiwan have called on the World Health Organization (WHO) to grant observer status to Taiwan at the World Health Assembly (WHA), the WHO's decision-making body, given Taiwan's success in containing COVID-19.

The United States, Japan, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand said in a joint letter to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus that the WHO's exclusion of Taiwan has created a serious public health concern during the COVID-19 crisis, the Canadian Press reported Sunday.

"Taiwan's isolation from the global health community not only presents a serious public health concern, but is also an obstacle that hampers ongoing and future efforts," according to the draft of the letter acquired by the Canadian Press, a national news agency headquartered in Toronto.

Taiwan's Ministry of Health and Welfare hosted a video conference May 15 attended by health officials from several countries, including Canada, the report said, citing a senior government official speaking on condition of anonymity.

The 73rd WHA is set to be held online Monday and Tuesday.

The letter tells Tedros to allow Taiwan to be given observer status at the meeting Monday, the report said.

Citing the letter, the Canadian Press said Taiwan's early success at controlling the pandemic qualifies it for a seat at WHA meetings and it tells the agency to stop playing politics.

The letter also says the international community is harmed when important health information is not permitted to flow freely and easily, according to the report.

The letter calls Taiwan a capable and responsible player in the world's health community, and says it has scientific and technical expertise that could help save lives around the world.

The letter says it is regrettable that the WHO has broken with its guiding principles by excluding Taiwan from the assembly.

It defines the WHO's guiding principle as ensuring that all people have the right to the highest health standards, regardless of political belief, race, religion or economic or social conditions.

Geneva-based diplomats from Canada, Australia, France, Germany, New Zealand, the U.K., Japan and the U.S. issued the demand orally in a May 7 meeting with two other senior WHO officials, with the envoys from Washington and Tokyo taking the lead, according to the report.

The Canadian Press report also noted that Adam Austen, press secretary to the minister at Global Affairs Canada, reiterated Canada's support for "Taiwan's meaningful participation in international multilateral fora where its presence provides important contributions to the public good."

Canada has "clearly communicated" to the WHO that Taiwan should be allowed to take part in upcoming WHA meetings, Austin was cited as saying in the report.

(By Hu Yu-li and Evelyn Kao)

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