DOH minister calls for greater WHO participation
World Health Organization members should support Taiwan’s bid to play a greater role in all activities of the U.N. body, said Chiu Wen-ta, ROC Department of Health minister, May 23 in Geneva.
Expanding Taiwan’s WHO role enables the island to make a bigger contribution to boosting global health care, Chiu said. This can be achieved by following the same model that delivered World Health Assembly observer status for Taiwan in 2008, he added.
The minister made the remarks while addressing the plenary session of the 56th WHA in his capacity as head of the Taiwan delegation.
Although Taiwan has held observer status in the WHO governing body for the past four years, Chiu said, it still faces difficulties in taking part in technical consultations and programs such as the International Food Safety Authorities Network.
“We are fully committed to the responsibilities that come with being an observer in the WHA. However, we have seen little progress in gaining greater and fairer participation in the WHO.”
This position, according to a local media report, was reiterated by Chiu in a congratulatory letter to WHO Director-General Margaret Chan following her re-election for a second term in the assembly. He also expressed displeasure over the organization’s September 2010 internal memo referring to Taiwan as a province of mainland China.
Putting aside frustrations stemming from Taiwan’s limited involvement in the WHO and the name issue, Chiu updated members on the ROC National Health Insurance system, describing it as an affordable, efficient and fair program.
Launched in 1995, the NHI is a compulsory system that covers 99.6 percent of Taiwan’s population, including foreign nationals holding residency permits. Access is guaranteed for all through such measures as premium subsidies and installment plans.
The minister said NHI expenditures account for only 6.9 percent of Taiwan’s gross domestic product, a rate lower than many countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
“In 2011, delegations from over 50 countries visited Taiwan to study our NHI program. Many international media outlets, including The Economist and CNN, ran articles and programs introducing our system.”
But the secret of the NHI’s 88.6 percent user satisfaction rate, Chiu said, is Taiwan’s highly trained and dedicated medical personnel. He vowed to further recognize their contributions by improving working conditions and implementing incentive schemes.
The six-day WHA is scheduled to wrap up May 26.
Write to Rachel Chan at firstname.lastname@example.org