WHA observer status pays global dividends
Source： Taiwan Today
The ROC was invited by the World Health Organization on 16 April to take part as an observer at the 65th World Health Assembly—the fourth consecutive year the nation has attended a meeting of the WHO governing body following 38 years of exclusion.
The ROC delegation, led by Health Minister Chiu Wen-ta, will showcase the country’s health care achievements at the WHA. Running May 21-26 in Geneva, Switzerland, the assembly also serves to remind the world of the contributions Taiwan can make to strengthening the global disease-prevention network.
The ROC’s experiences in implementing its second generation National Health Insurance program will be of great interest during a conference session delivered by Chiu on universal health care coverage. In addition, his brief address on building a sustainable medical system is set to be a highlight.
These presentations will be of enormous interest given the nation’s single-payer plan, which provides affordable access to over 99 percent of Taiwan’s population, recently featured on the CNN program “Fareed Zakaria GPS.”
Other topics set to be discussed by Chiu at the WHA include mental disorders, noncommunicable diseases and teen pregnancy. The ROC has made headway in improving standards of treatment across these areas, and is eager to share its experiences while learning of the challenges faced by other economies.
The ROC delegation has the backing of the nation’s 23 diplomatic allies, as well as longstanding friends such as Canada, Japan, the EU and U.S. Its presence at the WHA also represents an important opportunity for the ROC to demonstrate the value of its meaningful participation in relevant international organizations.
By playing an expanded role in WHO programs and activities, the ROC is fast becoming recognized by the family of nations as a reliable partner and key ally in tackling health issues of critical importance. This development further reaffirms the progress made by President Ma Ying-jeou in transforming Taiwan’s international image into one of a peacemaker and provider of humanitarian aid.
With a greater role in the organization, the country can better share its extensive experience in assisting less developed nations provide improved health care for their populations, along with emergency medical services know-how. Such involvement benefits all while safeguarding the health of Taiwan’s 23 million people.
WHA observer status is a critical first step in achieving this goal, but it is going to take more than just an annual meeting for the ROC to fulfill its obligations as a responsible member of the international community. For the betterment of world health, the time is ripe for the country to be fully brought into the WHO system.