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Paraguay reiterates support for Taiwan's inclusion in the WHO

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The World Health Organization's Geneva headquarters. (Wikimedia commons photo)

The World Health Organization's Geneva headquarters. (Wikimedia commons photo)

During the World Health Organization (WHO) Executive Board session in Geneva, Switzerland, the Paraguayan representative, Dr. Adriana Amarilla, highlighted the importance of Taiwan's inclusion in the WHO and its participation as an observer.

We must remember the right to health of every person, including three fundamental elements: the right to health, its promotion, and protection.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 25 proclaims health as a fundamental right to benefit everyone, without discrimination. The American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, Article 11 also states, “Everyone has the right to have his health preserved by health and social measures, relating to food, clothing, housing, and medical care, at the level permitted by public and community resources."

The U.N. Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, Article 12 reads, “The States Parties to this Covenant recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. For this reason, the WHO programmatic statement says, “The enjoyment of the maximum degree of health that can be achieved is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction as to race, religion, political ideology or economic or social condition.”

It is in this sense that the presence of the Republic of China (Taiwan) before the WHO constitutes a right and an obligation on the part of this international body. Curbing this participation would violate clear norms of international law.

Taiwan should be present at the WHO because, as European parliamentarians stated in a letter, “Taiwan is strategically located in the Indo-Pacific, where people and goods constantly arrive and leave, which is of great importance for disease prevention.” Secondly, it is unfair that more than 23 million Taiwanese are denied the right enjoyed by the rest of the world to participate in the global system of disease prevention based on equity.

Thirdly, Taiwan has an excellent public health coverage system that is internationally recognized, whose keys are confessed and willing to be shared with everyone.

In addition, it insists on the adequate training of doctors and nurses, strong digitalization, and powerful technological advances. Its research interests are impressive, including its attempt to create vaccines that prevent all four types of dengue.

We must emphasize that health is a fundamental right of every human and a universal value, without distinction as to race, religion, political ideology, or economic or social condition. This right cannot be violated, as it has been so far with the people of Taiwan.

The sectarian political criteria of the People's Republic of China should not block the aspiration of the people of Taiwan to enjoy the right to health.

I would like to repeat what President Tsai Ing-wen has said: "Taiwan has always opposed all forms of discrimination. For years we have been excluded from international organizations and we know better than anyone what it feels like to be discriminated against and isolated."

This statement was made when she invited the WHO director-general to visit Taiwan so the world could see its work in pandemic prevention. If the WHO director-general could withstand pressure from China and come to Taiwan, he could see that the Taiwanese are the real victims of unfair treatment.

For Taiwan's sake, and compliance with international law, that sister nation should be represented in the WHO. Paraguay supports this legitimate aspiration.