World Medical Association Urges Taiwan's Acceptance To The Who As An Observer

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The World Medical Association today repeated its call for Taiwan to be granted observer status at the World Health Organization.

In a statement in advance of next week's World Health Assembly in Geneva, the WMA Council, meeting in Divonne-les-Bains, France, called for an end to Taiwan's exclusion from WHO, citing the SARS outbreak as an example of where international co-operation was essential.

"SARS illustrates the importance of everyone being able to work with and receive support from WHO", said Dr Delon Human, Secretary General of the WMA.

"Taiwan is being affected by SARS and yet the concern at the moment is that the Taiwanese medical profession is excluded from the international medical community and from important international public health strategy networks".

"We should do nothing to prevent WHO scientists from liaising with medical professionals in Taiwan and providing them with basic communication. And the way to do this is to allow Taiwan observer status at WHO".

The WMA agreed in 2001 to press for observer status for Taiwan, declaring that Taiwan's population of more than 20 million people should not be excluded from the work of WHO. The WMA made it clear it was not taking a stand as to the legal status of Taiwan.

Note to editors:
Taiwan's last application to gain observer status, in May 2002, was rejected. But it has recently been accepted as a member of the World Trade Organization, joining on 1 January 2002 as a "customs entity". Since it is not recognised by many countries as a sovereign state, it has also joined the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation Forum as an "economy", the Olympic movement as a "sports organisation" and an international convention on fishing as a "fishing entity".