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CTC SARS Letter to Secretary Powell

March 28, 2003

The Honorable Colin Powell                                      Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Secretary Powell:

As you are aware, Taiwan - along with several nations across the globe have been struck by a deadly pneumonia virus known as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). This virus has killed 13 people thus far and put several hundred in the hospital as well. This global epidemic has prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) to initiate its Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network in order to coordinate international efforts to combat this deadly virus.

We believe these measures have been critical to containing the spread of SARS and to providing nations across the globe accurate and timely information, enabling them to better combat this world health threat.

Secretary Powell, while we are grateful for the WHO's concerted response to this global health crisis, we are deeply disturbed that one of the nations most affected by this outbreak (ie, Taiwan) was denied assistance when it requested help from the WHO to diagnose and treat suspected cases of SARS. Despite the health perils posed to 23 million Taiwanese citizens, the WHO has repeatedly rejected Taiwan's plea for help and has placed the health of an entire nation in
jeopardy. It is unconscionable that instead of focusing on the health needs of the Taiwanese people, the WHO has based its decisions on politics and China's short-sighted rejection of Taiwan's membership in the WHO. As the pace of globalization quickens and the spread of infectious disease becomes easier, it is critical that all nations, including Taiwan, be given the opportunity to participate in such international health organizations as the WHO. The inability of Taiwan to receive WHO assistance as well as the inability of allowing them to provide its own medical expertise to WHO efforts could seriously impede the international investigation into the SARS outbreak.

As members of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus, we urge you to support Taiwan's efforts to seek assistance from the WHO in combating the SARS outbreak and for her inclusion in the WHO's Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network. It is critical to the health and well-being of the Taiwanese people and the entire international community that Taiwan not be left out of this international effort to identify and treat this deadly virus.

Secretary Powell, we believe that this crisis further highlights the urgency surrounding Taiwan obtaining observer status in the WHO at the World Health Assembly (WHA) in May 2003. In light of the recent SARS crisis, it is apparent that until Taiwan becomes a member of the WHO, the country will be unable to receive assistance from the world's most preeminent health care body should a health emergency arise. As we approach the beginning of the WHA in May, we urge you to make a clear and uncompromising declaration of U.S. support for Taiwan's candidacy for observer status in the WHO. More specifically, we urge you to instruct the U.S. delegation to Geneva this coming May to speak out on the floor of the WHO assembly in favor of Taiwan's observer status.

We want to thank you for your effort to assist Taiwan during this health crisis, and we look forward to working with you and the Bush Administration to assist the government of Taiwan in its effort to obtain observer status in the WHO.

1. Robert Wexler
2. Steve Chabot
3. Sherrod Brown
4. David Wu
5. Joe Barton
6. Michael McNulty
7. Rob Andrews
8. Rick Larsen
9. Mike Bilirakis
10. Eliot Engel
11. John Shimkus
12. Anthony Weiner
13. Howard Berman
14. Peter Deutsch
15. Patrick Kennedy
16. Mark Souder
17. Eddie Bernice Johnson
18. Jim Ramstad
19. Maurice Hinchey
20. Cliff Stearns
21. Mike Honda
22. James Langevin
23. Frank Pallone
24. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
25. Charles Gonzalez
26. Solomon Ortiz
27. Marilyn Musgrave
28. Alcee Hastings
29. Tim Ryan
30. Julia Carson

Any questions? Please email: