Excluding Taiwan from WHO is threat to global health: Minister

Excluding Taiwan from WHO is threat to global health: Minister

Hsueh Jui-yuan says at Geneva meeting that Taiwan's presence at WHO is health issue, not political, as China blocks its access

By Peter Kenny

GENEVA (AA) – Taiwan's health minister warned Sunday that the continued exclusion of the island from the World Health Organization (WHO) due to China's actions threatens global health.

"Excluding Taiwan from the WHO not only jeopardizes the right to health of the 23.5 million people of Taiwan, it also seriously undermines the WHO's efforts to achieve health for all" and hinders the global sharing of information, Hsueh Jui-yuan said at the Geneva Press Club.

He spoke shortly before the opening of the WHO's World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, which runs from May 21-May 30.

"Taiwan's participation in the WHA and WHO is a matter of health, not a political issue," said the minister.

Hsueh stressed that the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the need for the world to work together to overcome collective health challenges.

"And Taiwan has proven to be a valuable partner in the fight against COVID-19," he said.

China has blocked Taiwan from attending the WHA since 2017 as Beijing does not view it as a country but as a province that must be reunified with the mainland.

WHO countries will on Monday debate whether Taiwan should attend the WHA as an observer, but such calls have failed in recent years.

A member of Switzerland's national parliament, Nicolas Walder, told the conference that Taiwan is his country's fifth-largest economic partner in Asia and "shares many values with us, including a commitment to democracy and human rights."

"Taiwan is excluded from the WHO despite its full and exemplary collaboration with the WHO and member states during the health crisis and other public health issues," Walder said.

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