TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Meeting with the United Nations envoys of Taiwan’s allies in Taipei, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said on Tuesday (Feb. 18) that Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Organization (WHO) could facilitate efforts to tackle the threat of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Lois Michele Young, Luis António Lam Padilla, and Patrick Saint-Hilaire, the representatives of Belize, Guatemala, and Haiti, respectively, are visiting Taiwan from Feb. 17-21. Commenting on their meeting, Tsai expressed her appreciation toward the three envoys for speaking up in favor of Taiwan’s inclusion in the global network at the United Nations’ General Debate last year.
“Our diplomatic allies have always served as the most crucial channel for Taiwan to connect with the wider world,” said Tsai. “In light of China’s persistent efforts to suppress Taiwan’s international participation in different ways, we are very grateful that our diplomatic allies have spoken up for Taiwan at important international events, allowing the world to clearly hear Taiwan’s voice,” she said.
Speaking on the new virus, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan and has taken more than 1,800 lives worldwide, Tsai said the need to include Taiwan in the WHO is even more urgent as the country is on the front line fighting against the SARS-like disease.
“Preventing the spread of the disease is like having a war that takes coordinated efforts between governments and people,” said Tsai. “Political issues should not override the right to health,” she said, referring to the WHO’s policy of excluding the island nation.
Tsai said that with an advanced and comprehensive healthcare system, and expertise stemming from its experience dealing with the SARS epidemic and current efforts to contain the new virus, she believed “Taiwan’s participation in the WHO will contribute to bringing the epidemic under control in a much faster and more efficient manner.”
“Taiwan will keep working toward this goal,” said Tsai. “It is therefore our ardent hope that our diplomatic allies will continue to voice support for Taiwan and endorse our involvement,” she added.
In addition to meeting with Tsai, the delegation will hold talks with senior officials from the Taiwanese government in the following days. They will also visit a number of public and private institutions during their stay in Taipei to get a better understanding of the island nation, according to Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.