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WHO 2003 Campaign 

Taiwan Failed 7th Time But Progress Was Made


As you are reading this page (May 23, 2003), sixty people have died from SARS in Taiwan. This past weekend, a medical expert from the United States Centers for Disease Control who was in Taiwan helping the country fight the disease came down with SARS like symptoms. More people’s lives could have been saved if People’s Republic of China did not cover up SARS last year. The epidemic could have been under control earlier if the World Health Organization would have responded to Taiwan’s request for assistance in early April. Instead, the WHO sent two medical experts to Taiwan on May 3rd, seven weeks (!) after Taiwan’s first request for the WHO’s help and after 8 deaths had occurred on the island nation. In this world where technology breaks down the geographic distance between nations and peoples, obtaining timely and first-hand information and assistance on communicable diseases is critical in containing such diseases.

Unfortunately, China, which covered up the disease in the first place and is causing current world-wide anxiety along with its allies such as Iran, North Korea, Cuba…etc vehemently blocked all attempts to bring Taiwan into the world’s health network during the WHO annual meeting in Geneva. The basic health right of 23 million people in Taiwan was again denied by the WHO. Indeed, on May 19, 2003, Taiwan lost its bid to participate in the World Health Organization for the 7th time.

Despite this disappointment, Taiwanese Americans and the Taiwanese government have expressed gratitude for HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson’s remarks on the floor of World Health Assembly in support of Taiwan. Secretary Thompson said, “…The need for effective public health exists among all peoples. That's why the United States has strongly supported Taiwan's inclusion in efforts against SARS and beyond…”. Japan for the first time also expressed support for Taiwan's participation in the WHO floor. France and Spain, who spoke against Taiwan last year, were silent this year. FAPA is confident that, next year, the United States will speak out more strongly in support of Taiwan and that the international community will show stronger support for Taiwan’s bid to join the WHO at the Geneva assembly.

In 1998, the enterovirus type 71 took 80 children’s lives away in Taiwan. The WHO did not send direct assistance to Taiwan claiming that Taiwan is not a member of the WHO. Disease respects no borders. Health should never be used as a political weapon. Because people’s lives are at stake. 

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