Taiwan health minister readies protest over World Health Assembly deadlock

TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) - Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung said on April 24 that he already prepared his speech regarding Taiwan’s eventual non-participation in the World Health Assembly (WHA).

He is also considering handing in a letter of protest in Geneva if Taiwan is not invited to the event for the third year, he added.

Even though countries like the UK, the U.S., the European Union, and Canada have expressed their support for Taiwan’s participation in international organizations, it is still difficult for Taiwan to receive an invitation to participate in the WHA under alleged pressure from Chinese authorities.

“We will continue working until ‘the last minute,’ although there is less than a month to go before this year’s WHA (to be held May 20-28),” he told the media.

“I will lead a delegation and depart for the WHA on May 17 as scheduled, even if we have not received an invitation from the organization by that time,” he added.

“We are slated to deliver a protest letter to the WHA to highlight Taiwan’s stance and its sovereignty,” the minister said.

Stressing that “Taiwan needs the WHA and vice versa,” Chen said, “the country has not only contributed substantially to the global network of medical care and disease prevention, it is also willing to help developing countries in need.”

From 2009-2016, Taiwan took part in the WHA as an observer, but the country was unable to attend the annual event in 2017 and 2018 due to opposition from China.

To highlight Taiwan’s contribution to the world public health and medical care, Taiwan has launched the “Health for all, Taiwan can help” campaign at the World Health Assembly two years ago.

“It is hoped that the international community can understand the role that Taiwan plays and the substantial contribution that Taiwan can bring in terms of medical and epidemic prevention. Also, Taiwan wants to help developing countries on this matter,” Chen said.