OPINION: World Health Organization Neglects 23.5 Million Taiwanese Citizens’ Health

World Health Organization prides itself on promoting inclusive health care for all of humanity, but Taiwan is excluded from the circle.

The News Lens
Date: 2019/07/31
By: Najee Woods

Photo Credit: AP / TPG Images

It is the purpose of the World Health Organization to serve the health of all people all over the world, instead of pandering to the specific political position of a particular country. —Tsai Ing-wen, President of Taiwan

In May, The World Health Organization (WHO) held its 2019 annual assembly in Geneva. Member-states sent their delegations to participate in discussions of global health. For the third straight year, Taiwan did not receive an invitation to partake in the World Health Assembly (WHA), due to what WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier described as a lack of “cross-strait understanding” between Taiwan and China.

Since the pro-Taiwan Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) won the presidency in 2016, China has exercised every tool in its arsenal to politically obstruct and deprive Taiwan’s right of fair representation in international organizations. WHO, an organization responsible for promoting global health, has become a willing political vessel to serve the oppressive interests of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

23.5 million Taiwanese citizens have been neglected by WHO since being expelled from the United Nations in the early 1970s. Since the late 1990s, Taiwan has attempted on numerous occasions to gain observer status within WHO, but requests were not considered in the WHA agenda. Taiwan does not have the same privileges that other WHO member-states enjoy, such as access to information on the latest outbreaks and epidemics. The lack of access to WHO databases detrimentally affects the Taiwanese population and further creates a blind spot for potential diseases to spread throughout the entire global network.

During the 2003 SARS outbreak, WHO initially refused to dispatch medical experts to Taiwan until it received permission from the Chinese government. Taiwan had to rely solely on the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the latest information on SARS. Despite Taiwan being able to manage the outbreak within its borders, WHO politics resulted in Taiwan becoming the third hardest hit area after China and Hong Kong, incurring a death toll of 37 Taiwanese lives.

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