WANG: Taiwan deserves to be in WHO

FILE – The logo of the World Health Organization at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland on June 11, 2009. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus, File)

As the world enters the fourth year of the COVID-19 pandemic, most border restrictions have been lifted and global health governance has shifted from pandemic response to post-pandemic recovery.  Taiwan fully supports health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the World Health Organization’s ‘Triple Billion targets’ to improve the health of billions for 2023 and is willing and able to share its experience to help the international community work toward the realization of the SDGs related to health and well-being.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Taiwan effectively mitigated the spread of the disease, leveraging its comprehensive public healthcare system, well-trained anti-pandemic personnel, border control policies, coordinated distribution of medical resources, and a patient transfer system to prevent and contain the pandemic. When compared with the thirty-eight Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development member states and Singapore, Taiwan ranks sixth-lowest in COVID-19 mortality and case-fatality rates.

The COVID-19 pandemic helped the international community recognize the importance of regional cooperation and digitization in healthcare. Taiwan established National Health Insurance (NHI) in 1995, which is a prime example of universal health coverage, offering financial protection and access to a wide range of essential services. Taiwan is committed to promoting digital health and innovation to enhance the accessibility and quality of healthcare services, including plans for a next-generation NHI program, successfully echoing Director-General of WHO’s five priorities for the subsequent five years outlined last year.

Taiwan has not been invited to the World Health Assembly since 2017. As the COVID-19 pandemic is abating and dialogue on strengthening health systems worldwide is accelerating, Taiwan should not be left out. Taiwan can help, and Taiwan’s inclusion would make the world healthier, more sustainable, and more equitable.

Taiwan urges WHO and all relevant stakeholders to support Taiwan’s inclusion in the World Health Assembly as an observer, as well as Taiwan’s full participation in WHO meetings, mechanisms, and activities. Taiwan will continue to work with the world to help ensure the fundamental right to health enshrined in the WHO Constitution. In the spirit of the SDGs, no country should be left behind —especially not Taiwan, which has made significant contributions to global public health.

Elliot Wang is Director-General, Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Atlanta