US Congress: "Let Taiwan join the WHO"

Washington, 7 May 1998. Several dozen US congressmen have jointly urged US Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala to back Taiwan's bid to enter the World Health Organization (WHO).

The request was initiated by Congressman Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who on 7 May 1998 sent a letter, co-signed by 51 members of the US House of Representatives to Secretary Shalala, who will attend the upcoming 1998 WHO annual meeting in Geneva.

The 52 members of the House of Representatives said in the letter that a a resolution providing for Taiwan's future participation in the WHO is expected to be placed before the Assembly for a vote in the May 11-20 conference, and urged Shalala, head of the American delegation to the meeting, to lend her firm support to the proposal and declare the US stand on supporting Taiwan's efforts to become a part of the organization.

It explained that according to the WHO's organic rules, every nation in the world has the right to join the organization. Being a country populated by 21 million people, Taiwan's status obviously meets the regulations, but the country is still being excluded from the organization, the letter said.

The letter also described Taiwan's distinguished achievements in health matters, including the fact that people on the island enjoy a longer average lifespan than other Asian peoples, that Taiwan has a low mortality rate among pregnant women and babies, diseases such as smallpox, malaria and bubonic plague have been eradicated there, and that Taiwan is listed as the first Asian country to have eliminated the virus which causes polio, as well as being the first country in world to provide free vaccination for children against hepatitis-B.

The letter said that these achievements prove that Taiwan is qualified to enter the WHO and make its contribution to the organization founded with the goal of seeking the highest possible level of human health around the world.

However, in the current circumstances, not only is Taiwan unable to contribute its abundant health resources to the promotion of the WHO goal, hundreds of thousands of children in Taiwan also cannot profit from the most modern medical knowledge and expertise provided by the WHO, the letter said.

The joint letter was promoted by the Washington-based Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA), which revealed that a number of Taiwan's allies, including Nicaragua, Grenada, the Gambia and Senegal, have requested the WHO's policymaking body to list Taiwan's application for observer status in the international organization on the agenda of this year's conference. Discussions on the proposal are expected to be held, a FAPA spokesman said.

A similar application was filed by the Taiwan health authorities last year, but the request was voted down, due to pressure from Beijing.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Back to: News and Current Events