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    WHO Past Campaign - Information Related to H.R.1794

Rep. Sherrod Brown's Remarks During June 23, 1999 Mark-up Hearing on WHO Membership for Taiwan Bill (HR1794)

Mr. Chairman:

Good health is a basic right for every citizen of the world.

Access to the highest standards of health information and services is necessary to gain this right.

Since 1972, the 21 million people of Taiwan have been blocked from participation in the World Health Organization.

As a consequence, the children of Taiwan needlessly suffer because their doctors are denied access to the latest WHO protocols.

Last Congress, I introduced a resolution urging the United States government to find some form of meaningful participation for Taiwan in the WHO.

Even though this resolution passed 418 to 0, the State Department refused to help the Taiwanese people at this year's WHO Summit in Geneva.

I know this because I traveled to Geneva to determine whether or not the U.S. delegation would support Taiwan's efforts to participate in the WHO.

I saw our delegation stand by silently as the People's Republic of China , along with the military dictatorship that rules Myanmar the nation we used to call "Burma" and probably the worst government in the world decried Taiwanese participation in the WHO as a threat to the stability of East Asia.

The fact of the matter is that participation for Taiwan in the World Health Organization poses no threat to Beijing's security, but will enhance the quality of life for its 1.2 billion inhabitants.

The WHO is an organization whose sole purpose is to eradicate and control disease while improving the health of people around the world. Its achievements in this regard are nothing short of remarkable.

In this past century, smallpox claimed more than a half billion lives, killing more people than every war and epidemic put together. Because of the tireless efforts of the World Health Organization, this scourge has been totally eradicated.

In 1980, only 5 percent of the world's children were vaccinated against preventable diseases. Today, the WHO has vaccinated more than 80 percent of the kids in the world, saving the lives of 3 million children each year.

These diseases include Polio , a virus unparalleled in its cruelty and suffering. The WHO has eradicated it from the western hemisphere. Similarly, measles a killer of a quarter of a million children world-wide each year is targeted for eradication by 2001.

It is unconscionable that our government refuses to support every individual's right to receive the benefits associated with WHO. That Taiwan is not a sovereign state does not matter -- other WHO members include the Palestine Liberation Organization, SWAPO, and the Knights of Cyprus.

It is high time that the State Department listens to Congress and quits making policy in a vacuum. This bill will require it to comply with our demands, and I urge all of my colleagues to support it.

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