May 13, 2009

Taiwan: EU Welcomes Entry into WHO

Active Image

The EU applauds a WHO decision giving Taiwan observer status at the upcoming General Assembly.



Below is an article published by The Parliament:


It will be the first time the island has participated in the annual gathering of global health ministers since 1971 and follows intense lobbying by Taiwan in recent months.


The move comes about only after China finally dropped its long-standing opposition to Taiwan taking part in the annual assembly, which starts in Geneva on 18 May [2009].


Many believe the WHO only acted in the wake of growing concern about the possible global spread of the potentially deadly swine fever virus.


Taiwan has consistently claimed that its experience of health outbreaks such as SARS in 2003 - which claimed the lives of 73 people in Taiwan - puts it in a unique position to help deal with similar events in the future.


The WHO decision was immediately welcomed by the Czech presidency of the EU which has issued a statement.


It reads, "The EU welcomes and fully supports Taiwan's participation in the 62nd session of the World Health Assembly (the decision-making body of the WHO) as an observer.


"The EU believes that this, combined with Taiwan's participation in the international health regulations, will enable Taiwan to meaningfully participate in, and contribute to, the proper functioning of the WHO's worldwide health system.


"This decision will also allow Taiwan to contribute to the global effort against potential pandemic diseases such as AH1N1 influenza.


"The EU has supported Taiwan's meaningful participation in specialized multilateral forums where Taiwan's participation is important to EU and global interests.


"The EU recognizes and welcomes the concrete steps and confidence building measures that have been undertaken over the last year by the parties on both sides of the Taiwan straits.


"The EU appreciates the efforts of both sides to find pragmatic solutions and peacefully develop relations, which contributes significantly to stability and security in East Asia.


"The EU strongly supports this process of cross-straits rapprochement."


Several senior MEPs, including UK Tory Edward McMillan-Scott, a vice president of parliament, and ALDE group leader Graham Watson, who have campaigned for Taiwan to be allowed to participate more fully in the WHO, also welcomed the decision as a "significant step forward."


Watson says that Taiwan should now also be allowed to become a member of other international organisations, like the United Nations.


Further reaction came from Yeh Ching-chuan, Taiwan's health minister, who, in an exclusive interview with this website, said, "The international community has positively affirmed this pragmatic and flexible attitude. Taiwan's participation will be a great step forward for global health-related human rights."