Facilitating Taiwan’s Participation in WHA Will Help Canada, the World

May 13, 2019 Updated: May 15, 2019

Letter to the Editor

The World Health Assembly (WHA), the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO), will hold its 72nd session May 20–28 in Geneva. All 194 WHO member states, including Canada, will send delegates to this important meeting.

Taiwan, however, is still waiting for an invitation to attend.

Its absence will have grave consequences for Taiwan, Canada, and the rest of the world.

The Southeast Asian country of 23 million has been knocking on the doors of the WHA for many years, eager to participate meaningfully and contribute to its work, only to be repeatedly rejected because of political pressure from China.

Taiwan’s requests to attend the WHA as an observer in 2017 and 2018 were ignored. Similarly, it was excluded from participation in the February 2019 meeting in Beijing about the influenza virus vaccine to be used during the next flu season.

When the deadly SARS virus struck in 2003, many Taiwanese people were needlessly sacrificed, as Taiwan was left to combat the disease without the WHO’s timely assistance.

Recognizing the injustice of excluding the 23 million people of Taiwan from the global health protection network, many nations, including Canada, the United States, and the European Union, have supported Taiwan’s efforts.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland has publicly stated that Taiwan’s presence in international meetings provides “important contributions to the global public good.”

This is another key reason to support Taiwan. The world will lose an opportunity to gain from Taiwan’s expertise in critical areas such as disease prevention and constructing a universal health care system if it’s excluded from the WHA.

Just as Canada hopes its allies will keep pressing China to release detained Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, it is reasonable to expect Canada to take concrete action at this time to advocate for Taiwan’s inclusion in WHA 2019.

Susan Korah, Ottawa

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.