Taiwan seeks WHO membership so it could help fight COVID-19 pandemic
MANILA, Philippines – Taiwan is urging the World Health Organization (WHO) to include it as a member so that it could share best practices its medical community has learned while fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
Taiwan Health Minister Dr. Chen Shih-chung said on Wednesday that his country could share a lot of its experience in combatting the latest coronavirus strain, which resembled to the viruses that caused the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
As of now, Taiwan is not officially part of WHO, which still recognizes the country as part of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) — Chinese Taipei — and not as a sovereign country.
“If it is indeed WHO’s mission to ensure the highest attainable standard of health for every human being, then WHO needs Taiwan just as Taiwan needs WHO. Yet Taiwan has long been excluded from WHO due to political considerations,” Chen said in a statement forwarded by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Manila.
“This has been regrettable given all that Taiwan could share with the world thanks to its renowned public health experience, health system, NHI, and ability to perform rapid testing as well as research and manufacture vaccines and drugs against COVID-19. We can also share our methods for analyzing the virus,” he added.
According to Chen, WHO should recognize Taiwan’s contributions to health innovations, especially in the realm of studying the coronavirus. Taiwan is hailed as one of the most resilient countries in terms of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, which the country credits to their study of the SARS outbreak in 2002.
“We urge WHO and related parties to acknowledge Taiwan’s longstanding contributions to the international community in the areas of public health, disease prevention, and the human right to health, and to include Taiwan in WHO and its meetings, mechanisms, and activities,” Chen noted.
“Taiwan will continue to work with the rest of the world to ensure that all enjoy the fundamental human right to health as stipulated in the WHO Constitution. Echoing the mantra of the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, no one should be left behind,” he added.
Taiwan, also known as the Republic of China, separated when nationalist politician Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang party was forced to relocate out of the mainland in the late 1940s after the communist movement led by Mao Zedong ran over the nationalist forces.
As Mao established the Asian superpower, Taiwan developed into a major cultural and technological hub and a financial district in the region. But even years after the civil war, mainland China – ruled by the Communist Party of China – is still claiming ownership of Taiwan.
Recently, Taiwan was on the wrong end of a WHO advisory as the COVID-19 cases rose, after the Philippines issued a travel ban over China. The advisory included Taiwan, which claimed to be a sovereign state, separate from the mainland.
Taiwan has one of the lowest coronavirus infection and mortality rates in Asia, with 425 cases and just six deaths. On the other hand, China — where the virus originated — has over 83,000 cases and 4,632 deaths.
However, there are claims from China observers that the country may have not been truthful about the current numbers, with one researcher saying that the country has stopped testing.
Other experts speculate that the virus was made in Wuhan laboratory and inadvertently released in a wet market where bats are being sold.
“We hope that after this pandemic abates, WHO will truly understand that infectious diseases know no borders, and that no country should be excluded, lest it become a major gap in global health security,” Chen noted.
In the Philippines, an enhanced community quarantine has been enforced over Luzon and other areas due to rising number of coronavirus infections.
As of this writing, the Philippine Department of Health has recorded 6,710 patients infected with the coronavirus, of whom 446 have died and 693 have recovered.
Worldwide, over 2.57 million individuals have been infected, while 177,256 have died from the disease and 680,330 have recovered from it.
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