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Allies voice support for Taiwan at WHO's Executive Board meetings

United Nations health agency holding its Executive Board meeting this week

Guatemalan envoy Calderón Pinzón. (Screen capture from WHO's live video)

Guatemalan envoy Calderón Pinzón. (Screen capture from WHO's live video)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan’s allies have joined forces to speak up in favor of the country’s inclusion in the World Health Organization (WHO) at the health agency’s Executive Board meetings held this week in Geneva, Switzerland.

“We have noted with concern that Taiwan confirmed a dozen cases of infection by the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Therefore, we request that Taiwan receive timely notifications of infectious diseases so as not to put public health safety at risk, and hopefully the information provided by that country will be taken into account,” said Paraguayan ambassador Julio César Peralta Rodas on Monday (Feb. 3). Leaving any region or country behind poses a risk to everyone, particularly when it comes to infectious diseases, he said.

“Taiwan’s technical experts are of late denied participation in technical meetings of the WHO,” said Simon Zwane, the representative of Taiwan’s only African ally, eSwatini. “This unfortunately leaves over 23 million people of Taiwan and others vulnerable to such epidemics, yet we know that Taiwan has cutting-edge expertise that would benefit all of us.”

Zwane also said the fact that WHO had repeatedly listed Taiwan as part of China in its report would “[impact] negatively to the people of Taiwan.”

During the session on Tuesday (Feb. 4), Guatemalan envoy Calderón Pinzón recognized the cooperation his country has had with Taiwan as well as international and regional organizations in healthcare. The official mentioned three projects carried out by Taiwan that he said “make a difference” in improving the health conditions of the people of the Central American nation, including the supply of medication and relief, medical services aimed at minority groups and those residing in remote areas, and the training of medical staffers.

The WHO is holding the Executive Board meeting, which will give effect to the decisions and policies of the World Health Assembly in May, from Feb. 3-8. The Executive Board is composed of 34 member states elected every three years.