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 CTC Urges WHO Chief on Taiwan's Participation in the WHO

May 13, 2005

Dr. Lee Jong-wook 

Director General, WHO

Avenue Appia 20

1211 Geneva 27

Switzerland

Dear Director General Lee:

As the 58th meeting of the Assembly of the World Health Organization approaches, we write to urge your support of Taiwan's admission as an observer to the Assembly, as well as its participation in the International Health Regulations (IHR)                                     

The WHO plays a critical role in safeguarding and improving the health of all the world's peoples and we support its admirable record of achievement as a guardian of international health.  But a glaring deficiency in the WHO's global program is that the 23 million people of Democratic Taiwan are not permitted participation.

In an era of globalization, there is growing apprehension about the emergence of new and dangerous illnesses such as SARS and avian flu.  To leave the Taiwanese people outside the WHO network places not only put their lives at risk, but the lives of the entire global community.

The WHO recently raised concerns about the erroneous distribution of the H2N2 Influenza virus to laboratories around the world, including 15 laboratories in Taiwan. Fortunately, Taiwan health authorities were alerted to the danger by American health officials and promptly arranged for the flu samples to be destroyed.  But the risks of dealing with such potential crises while 23 million of the world's citizens remain outside the global health safety net are self-evident. When it comes to health, there must be no exclusion.

As you are aware, Taiwan has a modern, world-class health care system and has lent its talents and resources to peoples in need throughout Asia and around the world.

Taiwan has much to contribute to global health and deserves a place under the WHO umbrella.   We understand a decision on Taiwan's status will ultimately be made by the collective members of the World Health Assembly. 

Your office can have significant influence as the process unfolds.  For these reasons, we urge you to support Taiwan in its bid for observer status.

Thank you in advance for your consideration.  We look forward to your timely response.

Sincerely,

SHERROD BROWN                           STEVE CHABOT

Co-Chair, Taiwan Caucus                 Co-Chair, Taiwan Caucus

DANA ROHRABACHER                        ROBERT WEXLER

Co-Chair, Taiwan Caucus                 Co-Chair, Taiwan CAucus

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