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Local medical associations urge WHO to include Taiwan in WHA

05/15/2024 06:55 PM
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CNA photo May 15, 2024
CNA photo May 15, 2024

Taipei, May 15 (CNA) More than 20 major local medical associations on Wednesday urged the World Health Organization to allow Taiwan to participate in this year's World Health Assembly and to collaborate with Taiwan, which is known for having one of the best universal health coverage systems in the world.

The 77th World Health Assembly (WHA) will be held in Geneva from May 27 to June 1.

Taiwan, not a member of the United Nations, did not receive an invitation to the WHA -- the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO) -- for the eighth consecutive year and therefore did not meet the Monday deadline to register.

Taiwan, with a population of 23 million, has the capacity and willingness to contribute to global health and should be able to participate in the WHA, said Chang Jung-chen (張榮珍), a member of the Taiwan Union of Nurses Association's International Affairs Committee.

"Taiwan's 21 major medical organizations are urging the WHO to set aside political considerations and work hard in hand with Taiwan and the rest of the world to save lives and to promote universal health," said Chang, who presented a joint statement during a press conference.

Chiu Tai-yuan (邱泰源), the incoming Health Minister and the honorary president of the Taiwan Medical Association (TMA), said many international medical associations support Taiwan's participation in the WHA due to the country's high-quality healthcare system and the willingness of Taiwanese medical professionals to assist countries in need.

"The World Medical Association (WMA) writes a letter to the WHO every year... stating that it is unacceptable that Taiwan, being such a 'top student' [regarding healthcare policy], is not allowed to share its insights," Chiu added.

The TMA is a full member of the WMA, which represents millions of physicians worldwide across 114 countries, according to the joint statement.

Despite the lack of invitation, Chiu will lead a Taiwanese group to Geneva to attend a series of events promoting Taiwan's inclusion in the WHA, in line with previous practice, according to a report from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Republic of China (ROC), Taiwan's official name, left the WHO in 1972 following a decision by the U.N. to expel the ROC and recognize the People's Republic of China (PRC) as the only "legitimate representative of China."

Since then, Taiwan has been unable to attend the WHA due to Beijing's pressure, except from 2009 to 2015 as an observer when relations with China were warmer under Taiwan's then-Kuomintang (KMT) government, and in 2016, shortly after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the Democratic Progressive Party took office.

(By Sunny Lai)

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