Snubbed by WHO, Taiwan gets support from Guam's medical community
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
National representatives from the global are gathering in Geneva, Switzerland this week for World Health Organization’s annual assembly. While Covid-19 issues dominate the meeting, Taiwan, a country recently well known for its best-in-class result of Covid-19 response, is not invited to join it at all.
Guam’s medical community is building support for Taiwan’s participation in World Health Organization (WHO).
An open letter to WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was initiated by Jenny Yang, the managing director of GNC and 2018 Madame International honored by International Women’s Club of Guam.
“Taiwan’s absence in World Health Assembly this year is absolutely a mistake. I showed the open letter to Dr. Jitka Lom. She’s really a friend of mine. With her encouragement and support, I started contacting more friends in healthcare community. Our voices could be heard when we are together doing the right thing.” Yang said.
In addition to Dr. Lom of ExpressCare, Yang said that Dr. Yolanda M. Carrera, Dr. Edna V. Santos of Tumon Pediatric Clinic, Pharmacist Tsungmin Cheng of Mega Drug and Mr. Edward Lu of HSVG Mission’s Public Health Office have also supported and signed the open letter. Yang is also discussing with Dr. Thomas Shieh, the President of Guam Medical Association (GMA), hoping GMA is sending a message to WHO to urge Taiwan’s input into WHO’s global action against Covid-19 pandemic.
According to Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center, this island state, with 23 million residents, last reported a locally transmitted Covid-19 case on April 12 and, to date, recorded less than 600 cases and seven deaths. Former Taiwanese Vice President Chen Chien-jen, who is also a world-class epidemiologist, told CNN last month that intensive tracing and selective quarantines are the key to Taiwan’s success.
The content of the open letter is the following:
Dear Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus,
The Covid-19 crisis will dominate the World Health Assembly (WHA) to be held on Nov. 9 to 14, 2020 in Geneva. However, I noticed that Taiwan, a significant member in the international community with such a successful result of Covid-19 response, has not been included in WHA.
As the virus knows no borders, nationalities and ideologies, the world needs to share all available information and expertise that can be helpful to combat the pandemic. That is why I, with my healthcare colleagues on Guam, urge you and the World Health Organization (WHO) to return to the pragmatic protocol – practiced from 2009 to 2016 – of inviting Taiwan as an observer to the meeting format of WHA.
Taiwanese government has successfully managed to curb the spread of the virus in spite of Taiwan’s geographic proximity to the virus origin. As an observer, Taiwan can share successful experience in handling the Covid-19 pandemic through WHA. Furthermore, we request that WHO facilitates appropriate and feasible arrangements for Taiwan to participate in all WHO meetings, mechanisms and activities to allow the whole world to work together in realizing the fundamental human right to health as stipulated in the WHO Constitution and the vision of leaving no one behind enshrined in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
The Covid-19 pandemic has proven that Taiwan is an integral part of the global public health network and that Taiwan model can help other countries combat the pandemic. We urge WHO and related parties to acknowledge Taiwan’s longstanding contributions to global health, disease prevention, and the human right to health, and to firmly support Taiwan’s inclusion in WHO.
In the interests of a pragmatic, science-based approach to global health, we look forward to receiving a positive response from you.