Apr 09, 2008

Taiwan: WTO Gives No Hints On Membership Bid

Sample ImageOfficials at the World Health Organization have remained tight-lipped about the de facto island state despite increasingly global health threats.

Below is an article written by Martin Banks and published by TheParliament.com:

Since 1997, Taiwan has been trying unsuccessfully to obtain observer status at the world health assembly, the WHO’s governing body.

Taiwan will apply again when the WHA convenes in Geneva for its general assembly on 19 May [2008].

But speaking in Brussels on Monday [7 April 2008], the deputy director of the WHO’s regional office in Brussels said the island’s prospects of WHO membership or observer status rest solely with the organisation’s member states and its governing body.

Nata Menabde said she hoped that all countries would have a role to play in the global health network.

But she would not be drawn on Taiwan’s rights to join the organisation.

"This is a constitutional and legal matter," said the Copenhagen-based official, who was in Brussels as a keynote speaker at an event to mark World Health Day.

Taiwan insists that its continued exclusion from the WHO prevents it from obtaining the latest information from the international community and the WHO on health prevention measures and epidemiological conditions.

Her comments come after Taiwan's election cabinet spokesperson Shieh Jhy-wey reaffirmed that Taiwan is qualified to join the WHO as an observer.

Commending the country on its "important and remarkable" contribution to world health, Jhy-wey said that "without Taiwan’s participation in the WHO, the network of epidemic prevention and control around the world would be inadequate".

She added that work on Taiwan’s attempt to join the WHO is already under way and said its goal would not be changed, despite the new administration set to take the reins of power on 20 May [2008].