Nov 09, 2020

Taiwan: Excluded from WHO Meeting Despite Resounding Success in the Fight Against COVID-19

The WHO’s 83-page list of delegations for the 73rd meeting of the World Health Assembly (WHA), taking place today, did not include any representation from Taiwan. On Sunday, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Island had yet to receive an invite to the event which involves the UN health body’s 194 member states, as well as other UN agencies, non-governmental organisations and observer delegations representing the Palestinians and the Vatican. “The Foreign Ministry expresses strong regret and dissatisfaction at China’s obstruction of Taiwan participating in the WHO and the WHO’s continuing to neglect the health and human rights of Taiwan’s 23.5 million people,” the ministry said.

In August 2020, the UNPO General Assembly passed a resolution calling upon the international community to allow states with limited recognition to have full access to coordination mechanisms such as the World Health Organization and access to external international aid and funding. 

Although it has been more than 200 days since Taiwan last reported a case of the coronavirus and it is eager to share its experience and expertise on its success, the island is locked out of most global organisations such as the WHO due to the objections of China. 

The WHO has defended itself by saying it cooperates with Taiwan on various health matters and that it is up to member states whether to invite Taiwan to WHO meetings. 

Nearly 650 members of parliament from 25 European countries sent an open letter to the WHO chief last week calling for Taiwan to be invited as an observer.  The World Medical Association also wrote to Ghebreyesus reiterating its call for the island to be given observer status.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is proof that cooperation for and with all health care systems in the world is necessary,” wrote WMA Chair of Council Dr Frank Montgomery. “Therefore, we believe it is both cynical and counterproductive to continue excluding the health representatives from Taiwan from participating in the World Health Assembly and the technical meetings of the WHO. Even more so since Taiwan has so much to offer in expertise and material help.”

Taiwan was forced out of the WHO in 1972 when the People’s Republic of China took its seat. It took part in the WHA as an observer between 2009 and 2016, but Beijing has increased pressure on the island since President Tsai Ing-wen was first elected that year.