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Taiwan seeks U.S. support for wider WHO participation

Taiwan seeks U.S. support for wider WHO participation

Geneva, May 21 (CNA) Health Minister Chiu Wen-ta on Tuesday urged the United States to help Taiwan obtain observer status in the Regional Office for the Western Pacific (WPRO) of the World Health Organization (WHO) to widen Taiwan's participation in the United Nations agency. Chiu raised the issue during talks with U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius on the sidelines of the World Health Assembly (WHA) -- the decision-making arm of the WHO -- that is being held in Geneva. This is the fifth year that Taiwan has attended the WHA as an observer. During the meeting, Chiu expressed his appreciation to the U.S. government for its support for Taiwan's role in the WHO. To widen and deepen Taiwan's participation in the world body, Taiwan hopes to become an observer of the WPRO, headquartered in the Philippines, where many regional medical and health activities are held, he said. Without observer status in the WPRO, Taiwan can only send technical officials, but not ministerial-level officials, to attend WPRO meetings, he said. Chiu, meanwhile, extended an invitation to Sebelius to attend a conference marking the 10th anniversary of the SARS outbreak scheduled for July in Taiwan and the Global Forum for Health Leaders slated for November. Also during the meeting, Chiu conveyed his condolences over the loss of life resulting from a massive tornado that struck Oklahoma a day earlier. He also thanked the United States for its assistance to Taiwan during the H7N9 avian flu outbreak. (Emmanuelle Tzeng and Y.F. Low)