The Economist calls for Taiwan’s inclusion in the WHO

The Economist calls for Taiwan’s inclusion in the WHO

(Original source: The Economist)

 

The Economist published an article in its March 26th 2020 edition titled “Let Taiwan into the World Health Organisation” calling for the country’s inclusion in the global health body. The article points out that Taiwan, a champion against COVID-19, is shut out of the body that fights the pandemics. The piece highlights the effectiveness of Taiwan’s response to coronavirus compared to other countries, including Taiwan’s low number of cases of the disease, the expertise of Vice President Chen Chien-jen as a former epidemiologist and health minister and the establishment of Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Centre (CECC) in 2004 following the outbreak of SARS. The piece points out that in an emergency, the CECC’s mandate is to work across government departments to commandeer the resources it needs, citing that President Tsai triggered the CECC on 20 January 2020 and put the Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung in charge. The article emphasised Taiwan’s swift response, including screening inbound air passengers, energetic testing, rationing face masks as well as neighbourhood wardens enforcing quarantines and delivering food to those who cannot go out to get it. The Economist also highlighted Taiwan’s use of IT, such as the national databases and big data, to identify those most at risk of infection, as well as its laws to shut down disinformation campaigns about the virus on social media originating from China.

 

The article notes that while China’s initial cover-up eroded people’s trust in its response, Taiwan’s vigorous and timely action set a reassuring tone. For example, in late December Taiwanese health officials were boarding flights from Wuhan to check passengers for symptoms. “Taiwan’s performance is remarkable,” the piece states, adding that even more remarkable is that the country is not a member of the WHO, citing China’s obstruction. The Economist points out Taiwan wrote to the WHO in late December asking about human-to-human transmission in the virus outbreak in Wuhan, but the WHO did not reply. The article stresses that Taiwan’s fight against COVID-19 shows it can cope outside the WHO, but its exclusion causes wider damage. “Taiwan’s early understanding of the threat of the coronavirus could have given others advance warning,” the piece states, and “Taiwan’s inability to disseminate its findings cost lives.” The article concludes by urging the WHO to spare a word of praise for Taiwan and put an end to China’s unconscionable boycott of the country’s participation.