Filipino congressmen issue joint statement supporting Taiwan's WHA bid

2017/05/13 22:31:20 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
CNA file photo

CNA file photo

Manila, May 13 (CNA) A group of Filipino congressmen have issued a joint statement supporting Taiwan's bid to attend this year's World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization.

Online registration to attend the annual conference of WHA ended May 8, but Taiwan did not receive an invitation to attend due to China's obstruction.

The joint statement said that as friends of Taiwan's 23 million people, they "strongly support Taiwan's participation in the 70th World Health Assembly (WHA) which is scheduled to be held May 22 in Geneva as an observer in accordance with the precedents of Taiwan's previous continuous participation over the past eight years (2009-2016)."

They cited their reasons for supporting Taiwan's bid as follows:

1. Taiwan's absence from WHO would open a serious fissure in the global health system and create significant risks. These risks include the spreading of epidemics and food insecurity.

2. Taiwan administers the Taipei Flight Information Region, which sees over 60 million incoming and outgoing passengers a year. An outbreak of infectious disease such as MERS, Ebola or Zika would be amplified by Taiwan's critical position in the global transportation network.

3. Nearly 1.25 million birds fly over Taiwan each year as they migrate from mainland China, Japan and South Korea to Southeast Asia and Pacific island nations. As Taiwan is an important intermediate stop for migratory birds, risk of avian influenza outbreaks is considerable.

4. In terms of food security, in any country, manufactured food products use ingredients from around the world. Yet as WHO noted in 2015, over 2 million people die annually from contaminated food or drinking water. Considering that Taiwan is the world's 17th-largest exporter and 18th-largest importer of merchandise in 2015, global food safety would be difficult to manage and control if Taiwan was excluded.

5. Therefore, WHO needs Taiwan to build a robust global health system and Taiwan needs WHO. Participation in WHO over the past eight years has enabled Taiwan to share experiences with other countries, to report and receive disease prevention information promptly and to better contribute to health worldwide.

Taiwan's continuous participation in WHA and other WHO-related mechanisms, meetings and activities, will further ensure the implementation of SDG 3 (sustainable development goal) and serve the interests of all parties concerned: Taiwan, the WHO, and the international community as a whole.

The statement said that "our staunch support not only reflects the public opinion of the Filipino people across the Philippines, but also aims to urge relevant nations all over the world to echo our support for Taiwan's meaningful participation in the WHA."

"Thereupon, we express our support for Taiwan to participate in the upcoming 70th WHA and beyond by signing this statement."

(By Emerson Lim and Lilian Wu)

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