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Taiwan not invited for 70th World Health Assembly

While the 70th World Health Assembly (WHA) gears up to discuss global health issues and relevant policies in Geneva starting May 22, Taiwan, however, has not yet received an invitation from the World Health Organisation (WHO)

By: EBR - Posted: Friday, May 19, 2017

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Taiwan’s absence from the WHO will create a serious fissure in the global health system and pose significant risks such as the spread of epidemics and food safety hazards. Therefore Taiwan urges the WHO, the European Union and its Member States to recognise the fact that Taiwan is an integral part of the global disease prevention system and that the 23 million people of Taiwan have an inalienable right to equal treatment in health.
Taiwan’s absence from the WHO will create a serious fissure in the global health system and pose significant risks such as the spread of epidemics and food safety hazards. Therefore Taiwan urges the WHO, the European Union and its Member States to recognise the fact that Taiwan is an integral part of the global disease prevention system and that the 23 million people of Taiwan have an inalienable right to equal treatment in health.

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by Dr. Tseng Ho-jen*

Taiwan hopes that the European Union and its member states can support Taiwan to participate in this important annual event to “build a better, healthier future for all”. 

Nine years ago, after having garnered tremendous international support, Taiwan was invited by the WHO to attend the 62nd WHA as an observer. Since then, Taiwan’s active participation in WHA and WHO technical meetings has improved disease control in Taiwan and around the world, as Taiwan is committed to assisting other countries that face health challenges to fulfill the WHO’s vision. Over the years, Taiwan’s medical experts and public health professionals have worked tirelessly to broaden our health and humanitarian aid efforts beyond borders. Since 1996, Taiwan has invested over $6 billion in international medical and humanitarian aid efforts that have benefited millions of people in over 80 countries.

Taiwan's experience in treating the burn victims of a fiery explosion in 2015 has deeply impressed Europe's medical community. The accident left 499 people injured, including more than 300 severely burned. With dedicated efforts by hospitals around Taiwan to treat the patients, only 15 of them died, which translates into a death rate of just 3%, far less than between 20 and 60% in European countries. In June 2016, a year after the accident, representatives from Taiwan were invited to share their experience in the treatment of massive burn casualties during a conference attended by medical professionals from more than 20 European countries, held by the European Commission’s DG European Civil Protection & Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) in Brussels. 

Europe has recently been trying to reduce the harm from tobacco consumption. Taiwan has great experience in this matter too. In 2009, Taiwan introduced a complete ban on smoking in public places, as well as on advertising and promoting tobacco products. All these efforts resulted in the adult smoking rate decreasing from 21.9% in 2009 to 15.3% in 2016, while the second-hand exposure rate in non-smoking areas dropped significantly from 23.7% in 2008, to 6.5% in 2016. We are steadily progressing toward the goal of a 30% relative reduction in smoking rate by 2025 as set by the WHO.

Taiwan’s absence from the WHO will create a serious fissure in the global health system and pose significant risks such as the spread of epidemics and food safety hazards. Therefore Taiwan urges the WHO, the European Union and its Member States to recognise the fact that Taiwan is an integral part of the global disease prevention system and that the 23 million people of Taiwan have an inalienable right to equal treatment in health.

*Dr. Tseng Ho-jen is Taiwan’s Representative for the EU and Belgium

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