2006 year Press Release
The second annual Global Forum for Health Leaders ended on a high note yesterday with a handful of leading international health and government leaders voicing their support for Taiwan's continual bid to enter the World Health Organization.
Taiwan should be admitted to WHO, say experts
World Medical Association President Kgos Letlape pledged to do his best to facilitate dialogue between the Taiwan Medical Association and its Chinese counterpart to seek ways of resolving the differences between the two sides.
"One of the biggest reasons why China has been so opposed to Taiwan's participation in the WHO is the name issue," he noted. "By holding an open dialogue, the two parties would have an opportunity to express their opinions and try to reach to a middle ground on the issue."
Letlape observed that, based on his experience, it is often difficult to solve any problem if the parties involved are isolated from one another. However, he urged that Taiwan establish a consensus on the name issue before launching any cross-strait talks.
Malawi Minister of Health Marjorie Ngaunje argued that Taiwan has every reason to be part of the international health watchdog because "all people have the right to health and life."
"The WHO is an organization designed to create more international collaboration on health issues. Although Taiwan is not part of the organization, it is already doing its part by holding such forum," she said. This year's GFHL was attended by more than 300 health experts from more than 30 countries.
She thanked Taiwan for making various medical contributions to her country and urged that the WHO to take immediate action to secure Taiwan's full participation in the organization.
Using the analogy of an individual on a journey, Ngaunje said it is easy for an individual to walk or run alone for a short distance, but it is necessary to have companions if the journey is long, as is the case in working towards the WHO's "health for all" goal.
Another advocate of Taiwan's entry to the WHO, Delon Human, the president of Health Diplomat, said many health professional believe that despite Taiwan's absence from the international organization, Taiwan has already done much in participating in global health efforts.
He referred to a remark by another participant who said Taiwan should be formally and completely included in the WHO because of the country's excellent research facilities and high quality health care system. Moreover, Taiwan is known to be a "global champion" in humanitarian aid as exemplified in the government sponsored group, Taiwan International Health Action, he said.
He also quoted a Vietnamese delegate who thanked Taiwan for its generous donation of 600,000 anti-viral Tamiflu capsules during a bird flu outbreak in Vietnam last year.
As a public health surveillance agency, the WHO must find a way to resolve the Taiwan matter from a health issue perspective and not wait for a political solution because it could take years before the political issue is resolved, he stated.
"The WHO's International Health Regulations 2005 will be implemented in June next year. I urge that all sides, including the non-governmental organizations, the WHO, and the governments of Taiwan and China make every effort to include Taiwan as part of the health network," Human stressed.
In addition to discussing topics such as global health security and improving the condition of health work force, the forum participants also agreed on an action plan on the sustainability of global health called "Global Forum for Health Leaders Initiative."
The initiative aims to address the challenges of developing and retaining human resources, maintaining regional and global health security, planning effective strategies for major diseases, developing international health norms and ethics, establishing precautionary principles in public health practices, and securing Taiwan's participation in regional and global health.