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More nations speak up for Taiwan on 3rd day of WHA

9 diplomatic allies, Japan, Czech Republic urge Taiwan inclusion in event

75th World Health Assembly.

75th World Health Assembly. (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – As the World Health Assembly (WHA) continues, more like-minded countries and allies voiced their support of Taiwan on Tuesday (May 24).

Despite not including a supplemental item proposed by 13 countries to include Taiwan in the WHA as an observer, the WHA has heard pro-Taiwan statements since Monday (May 23). Countries with and without diplomatic ties with Taiwan have urged the assembly to allow Taiwan’s participation to enhance global public health, despite China’s protests.

On Tuesday, Haitian Public Health Minister Alex Larsen said that Haiti “pleads and will always plead for the inclusion of Taiwan” as an observer in World Health Organization (WHO) activities.

Lizzie Nkosi, Eswatini Minister of Health, recalled Taiwan as being the first to send medical experts to aid Eswatini in caring for patients in intensive care units. “To echo the theme ‘Health for Peace and Peace for Health’ of the General Discussion, I would like to urge WHO to include willing and capable global partners such as Taiwan.”

St. Clair “Jimmy” Prince, Minister of Health of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, said the people of Taiwan have supported and shared knowledge and experience in healthcare with the country for more than 40 years. He said the country stands with Taiwan as it continues to be excluded from the WHA, adding, “At this critical juncture, it is our hope that we will embrace the tremendous health-enhancing opportunity that is a WHO which includes Taiwan. Twenty-three million people ought not to be ignored.”

In a video message, Saint Kitts and Nevis Health Minister Akilah Byron-Nisbett spent the majority of the allotted time detailing Taiwan’s contributions and achievements during the pandemic. She first commended the WHO for its role in helping countries respond to and recover from emergencies, then said, “However, my government is cognizant that WHO cannot adequately provide the necessary human and financial resources to build and sustain capacity, particularly for emergency operations in small island developing states such as ours.”

Byron-Nisbett said, “During the pandemic, my country has had to rely on cooperative partnerships with countries such as the United States of America, Cuba, and in particular, Taiwan. Despite being excluded by the WHO, Taiwan continues to be a major international public health stakeholder.” Taiwan’s sharing of its medical and technical expertise as well as its experiences in managing the virus, according to her, “has contributed to the remarkable pandemic control in Saint Kitts and Nevis.”

She also highlighted Taiwan’s use of smart technology in combating COVID-19, saying, “Taiwan’s successful anti-pandemic efforts have been considered to be one of the best approaches in the world, having leveraged and integrated smart technologies into their National Health Insurance database to develop innovative anti-pandemic measures to enable efficient monitoring and control of domestic outbreaks.”

“The WHO commits to safeguarding the rights to health, and it would not be acting in the world’s best interests by continuing to exclude Taiwan. Taiwan can help, and Taiwan has been helping. Please, let Taiwan help,” concluded Byron-Nisbett.

Meanwhile, Nauru Health Minister Isabella Dageago called for Taiwan to be recognized “as a full participating member of the WHA.” She said Taiwan’s success in dealing with the pandemic “cannot be ignored and demonstrates the need to harness inclusivity and global cooperation at this level more than ever if we are to succeed in this pandemic.”

Isaia Taape, Tuvalu Minister for Health, Social Welfare and Gender, said the country values Taiwan’s support in all its health developments. Belize Minister of Health Kevin Bernard reiterated its government’s “firm position on Taiwan being invited to take part in all WHO activities.”

Moses Jean Baptiste, Saint Lucia’s Minister for Health and Wellness, told the assembly that “Taiwan continues to be an indispensable partner on the path to global post-pandemic recovery and hopes to work with the WHO and other nations worldwide.” He added that Saint Lucia continues to “call on the WHO to seek appropriate methods for Taiwan’s institutionalized participation in WHO meetings, mechanisms, and activities, and invite Taiwan to the WHA as an observer.”

Palau Minister of Health and Human Services Gaafar J. Uherbelau thanked Taiwan for its help during the pandemic, and reiterated Palau’s appeal to the WHO “for the immediate inclusion of Taiwan as an observer in the World Health Assembly and to further consider its full participation in all WHO activities” as the international community envisions “a global approach to health that is free from political and ideological infringement.”

Additionally, though the pre-recorded video message from the Marshall Islands was cut short due to time constraints, Health Minister Bruce Bilimon joined other nations in calling for Taiwan’s inclusion in the WHA and WHO, thereby providing an opportunity for all countries “to voice their people’s needs for healthy living without disposition of injustice and discrimination.”

Aside from Taiwan’s diplomatic allies, the Czech Republic and Japan also spoke in support of Taiwan. Czech Representative to the United Nations Vaclav Balek said, “The principle of equity must be respected; no one can be left behind. In the fight against COVID-19, all of us have to be on board. This is the reason why the Czech Republic fully supports Taiwan to be granted observer status of the World Health Assembly.”

Japan Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare Goto Shigeyuki emphasized that the world should “refer to good examples of regions that successfully tackled COVID-19 in terms of public health response, such as Taiwan.” He added, “We should not make any geographical vacuums created by leaving specific regions behind in addressing global health issues such as infection control.”

The Order of Malta also mentioned Taiwan as an example of inclusive medical cooperation, saying that activities seeking to generate trust around emergency health concerns and thus promote peace must “include all sectors of society and countries without discrimination of any kind.”