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MOFA urges WHO to take neutral, professional stance in facilitating Taiwan’s full participation and contributions

MOFA urges WHO to take neutral, professional stance in facilitating Taiwan’s full participation and contributions

 

On 30 March, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) issued a response to the World Health Organization (WHO) Secretariat’s statement dated 29 March and called on the global health body to take a neutral, professional stance in facilitating Taiwan’s full participation and contributions. While noting the WHO’s recognition of Taiwan’s successful epidemic prevention and containment measures as well as the importance of the country in the global fight against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), MOFA expressed regret that the WHO statement failed to present the full facts and called on the WHO Secretariat to continue to reevaluate the unfair restrictions it has imposed on Taiwan.

 

Regarding Taiwan’s information sharing with the WHO, MOFA pointed out that while Taiwan’s International Health Regulations (IHR) Contact Point allows it to glean information from the IHR’s Event Information Site (EIS), the information provided by Taiwan to the WHO through this conduit is not then shared by the organisation with other members. MOFA stressed that Taiwan has from the very start shared information about COVID-19 promptly with the WHO Focal Point, but the WHO Secretariat has yet to include the information on the EIS website or the WHO’s daily Situation Reports. The Ministry stressed that, as a result, health agencies of other nations cannot get information through WHO data on the epidemic in Taiwan, or its prevention policies or border quarantine measures.

 

Regarding exchanges through the Training Programs in Epidemiology and Public Health Interventions Network (TEPHINET), MOFA stated that although Taiwan does participate in TEPHINET, which is not a WHO programme, Taiwan is still unable to participate in WHO’s Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN). This means Taiwan can only obtain information indirectly through TEPHINET, and moreover, the country has no access to timely information through GOARN. “This cannot be represented as Taiwan’s participating in GOARN, nor does it give WHO grounds to claim it is cooperating with Taiwan,” the Ministry stated. Regarding Taiwan’s participation in WHO forums and technical meetings, MOFA emphasised that while WHO agreed to allow Taiwan to arrange for Taiwanese experts to attend the WHO’s Global Research and Innovation Forum in Geneva, their participation was limited to videoconferencing. This prevented Taiwanese experts from directly interacting with other countries’ representatives and engaging in exchanges about the development of the COVID-19 outbreak, and other relevant topics. MOFA also pointed out that from 2009—2019, Taiwan was only invited to 57 of the 187 WHO technical meetings it had applied to attend, representing a very high rejection rate of 70 per cent and a clear indicator that the WHO continues to restrict Taiwan for political reasons.

 

MOFA highlighted the growing wave of support for Taiwan’s inclusion in WHO among Taiwan’s diplomatic allies and like-minded nations, adding that the country’s successful efforts to keep COVID-19 in check have earned praise and commendation from the international community, and recognition through more than 450 news reports in over 40 countries. MOFA expressed gratitude to the international community for its staunch support. MOFA once again called on the WHO Secretariat to cast aside political considerations, abide by the WHO Charter’s call to work for the highest attainable standard of human health, and bring Taiwan fully into its meetings, mechanisms, and activities, particularly those concerning COVID-19.