Physician Leaders Urge WHO to Admit Taiwan to World Health Assembly

A call for Taiwan to be allowed to participate in this months’ World Health Assembly has come from the World Medical Association.

The WMA, a body representing 114 national medical associations and constituent bodies around the world, has written to Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization, saying it is unacceptable for Taiwan to be locked out of the WHA meeting.

In their letter, Dr. Yoshitake Yokokura, President of the WMA, and Dr. Ardis Hoven, Chair of the WMA Council, write: ‘After some years of granting the delegation from Taiwan observer status we experienced last year a lockout of the delegation from Taiwan and we are concerned that the participation of Taiwan in global health activities of WHO might be extremely limited. Behind these restrictions we can see only political reasons. But as physicians we reject the idea of a political instrumentalization of global health.

‘It is also undesirable under the advance of globalization of today to create a blank area in the infectious disease network of the globe because the spread of infectious diseases is threatening beyond borders.

‘When “Health for All” is meant seriously and Universal Health Coverage shall be truly universal, the factual lockout of more than 23 million people from WHO is not acceptable. We respectfully ask you to engage for reinstating a meaningful participation of Taiwan at the World Health Assembly and technical meetings of the WHO’.

The World Health Assembly is the decision-making body of the World Health Organization and is attended by delegates from all member states. This year’s meeting in Geneva is being held from May 21 to 26 with the theme of ‘Health for All’ and Universal Health Coverage. The WMA leaders in their letter say they are looking forward to the meeting, adding: ‘We certainly share the idea that this most important event in global health should serve the purpose of making “Health for All” a reality and to build the road to Universal Health Coverage’.

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