Health for all: Taiwan can help
We thank the 37th Legislature of Guam for passing a resolution expressing its support for Taiwan to have observer status at international organizations, including the WHO.
Guam cites the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act of 2018, the Taiwan Travel Act of 2018, and the Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative Act of 2019 as the basis for its support of Taiwan.
The resolution states that Guam will continue to maintain its strong relationship with Taiwan and recognizes the democracy and freedom enjoyed by the people of Taiwan. Guam has also expressed gratitude for the assistance provided by Taiwan, including during the Covid-19 pandemic and in the provision of specialized medical care. The resolution acknowledges that the people of Taiwan deserve the same level of public health as citizens of every nation on earth, and supports Taiwan's efforts to achieve observer status at the World Health Assembly. As the pandemic enters its fourth year, the global situation is improved, with most border restrictions lifted and global health governance shifting from pandemic response to post-pandemic recovery. Countries worldwide are now focused on achieving health and well-being for all, and furthering the realization of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), whose progress was impacted by the pandemic.
Taiwan fully supports health-related SDGs and the World Health Organization's (WHO) targets, and is committed to building a more resilient and equitable health service supply chain. Taiwan previously participated in the World Health Assembly (WHA) meetings as an observer and provided valuable expertise that informed the WHA's discussions. However, Taiwan has been excluded from the WHA since 2017 due to political considerations, hindering Taiwan's ability to receive assistance from the WHO and contribute to global health efforts. Discussions about ending the pandemic should exclude no one, especially not Taiwan and its 23 million people, who successfully united against Covid-19.
During the pandemic, Taiwan effectively mitigated the spread of disease by leveraging our comprehensive public healthcare system, well-trained healthcare workers, and epidemiological surveillance, investigation, and analysis systems. Taiwan's anti-pandemic response model included advanced deployment and rapid response mechanisms, border control policies, coordinated distribution of medical resources, and a patient transfer system. The Taiwanese people also played a pivotal role in the success of Taiwan's model by following quarantine regulations, getting vaccinated, and practicing social distancing and other preventive measures. Taiwan is willing and able to share its experience in creating a cross-sectional, innovative, and people-centered health approach to help the international community work toward achieving the SDGs related to health and well-being. Taiwan is dedicated to achieving universal health coverage for its citizens and has bolstered its health care and public health system in line with WHO recommendations.
Taiwan's National Health Insurance offers financial protection and access to a wide range of essential services, and the country has actively promoted digital health and innovation. Taiwan is upgrading its medical system, introducing new medical care models, and utilizing telehealth consultations for patients in remote areas.
The WHO Constitution of 1948 states that the health of all peoples is fundamental to the attainment of peace and security and is dependent on the fullest cooperation of individuals and states. The pandemic demonstrated that the world must work together to overcome collective health challenges. WHO coordinates global health efforts, and it is crucial for it to involve all stakeholders. Taiwan calls on its diplomatic allies and like-minded partners to support its participation in the WHA as an observer, as well as in all WHO meetings, activities, and mechanisms. Taiwan's exclusion from WHO and the WHA due to political considerations seriously jeopardizes the right to health of the 23 million people of Taiwan. It also undermines WHO's efforts to make global health architecture more resilient, hindering health emergency prevention, preparedness, and response.
As the world enters the fourth year of the Covid-19 pandemic, there is hope that the global public health emergency will soon be behind us. This year marks the 75th anniversary of WHO, making it an excellent opportunity for the international community to enhance public health efforts and work toward the ultimate goal of achieving Health for All. Taiwan urges WHO and all relevant stakeholders to support Taiwan's inclusion in the World Health Assembly as an observer, as well as Taiwan's full participation in WHO meetings, mechanisms, and activities. Taiwan will continue to work with the world to help ensure the fundamental right to health enshrined in the WHO Constitution. In the spirit of the Sustainable Development Goals, no country should be left behind—especially not Taiwan, which has made significant contributions to global public health.
Paul Yin-Lien Chen is the director general of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Guam.