Support for Taiwan gathers momentum at WHA

Palau, Japan, Paraguay, Guatemala, and Canada join forces to speak up for Taiwan at the World Health Assembly

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Palau’s Minister of Health Emais Roberts (Screen capture from WHO Live: https://bit.ly/30c3l3x)

Palau’s Minister of Health Emais Roberts (Screen capture from WHO Live: https://bit.ly/30c3l3x)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Allies and like-minded countries spoke up in favor of Taiwan’s participation at the World Health Assembly (WHA) on Tuesday (May 21) in Geneva, the second day of the annual health conference.

“No one left behind. I believe that by excluding Taiwan from sharing their success [at] the WHA, it is not Taiwan who is left behind, it is us at the WHA,” said Palau’s Minister of Health Emais Roberts. He was speaking at the plenary sessions where representatives of member states of the World Health Organization (WHO) talk about health issues.

“There is one partner not present in this room, and over the past three years since I’ve been here … They have also supported Palau for the past 20 years,” said Roberts. “Thank you, Taiwan.”

Emphasizing that Taiwan was ranked 9th in Bloomberg’s index for health efficiency and has been a “champion of universal health care,” Roberts praised the island nation for helping Palau build its national health care system.

“Palau is not [here] to dispute right or wrong in this arena. We all try to do the right thing,” said Roberts. “Palau believes that Taiwan can help.”

Roberts’ comments were loudly applauded. Other nations, including Taiwan’s allies and those who do not have formal diplomatic relations, also directly or implicitly spoke up in favor of the inclusion of Taiwan at the WHA.

► Julio Mazzoleni, minister of Public Health and Social Welfare of Paraguay (Screen capture from WHO Live: https://bit.ly/30c3l3x)

“The country’s [Taiwan] absence puts obstacles in the way of exchanging relevant information with other countries, undermines the constructive spirit of cooperation in the international community, and does not contribute to helping WHO achieve its subjective of guiding and promoting world health,” said Julio Mazzoleni, minister of Public Health and Social Welfare of Paraguay.

“We think that questions related to global health cannot be dealt with simply on the basis of political concerns. We believe therefore the participation of Taiwan as an observer here is essential to help us to achieve the goals of this organization,” Mazzoleni added.

► Masayoshi Shintani, Japan’s parliamentary vice-minister of Health, Labor and Welfare (Screen capture from WHO Live: https://bit.ly/30c3l3x)

“We assume that we should not make [a] geographical blank by creating a situation where a specific region cannot join WHA even as an observer,” said Masayoshi Shintani, Japan’s parliamentary vice-minister of Health, Labor and Welfare.

Shintani referred to the escalating endemic of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and suggested all countries and regions should be able to provide necessary support.

► Guatemala Health Minister Carlos Enrique Soto Menegazzo (Screen capture from WHO Live: https://bit.ly/30c3l3x)

Guatemala Health Minister Carlos Enrique Soto Menegazzo also acknowledged Taiwan’s contributions during his remarks. He expressed gratitude to Taiwan for having collaborated with Guatemala on “strengthening health … emergency preparedness, as well as strategies around communicable and non-communicable diseases.”

► Honduran Health Secretary Claudia Quiroz (Screen capture from WHO Live: https://bit.ly/30c3l3x)

Describing Taiwan as “a partner and ally in the promotion of health for many years.,” Honduran Health Secretary Claudia Quiroz recognized the island nation for its constant and indispensable support to the Central American nation.

“Politics should not impede people’s access to the global health system. Canada remains committed to building a global health community where everyone is included, regardless of who they are, or where they live,” said Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer. “We need to work together to see beyond our differences.”

► Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer (Screen capture from WHO Live: https://bit.ly/30c3l3x)

Taiwan has been excluded from taking part in the WHA since 2017, the year after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office in 2016. As part of a campaign to isolate Taiwan from the international community, Beijing has continued to put pressure on the WHO to block Taiwan’s participation.

“Our exclusion is not justified. The global health network should not be limited by the political agenda of a single country,” said Tsai via a recorded video released on Monday (May 20), the day that marked her third year as president. “Regardless, we remain committed to contributing to global health security.”