Sunday, April 1, 2007


Q1:What is the World Health Organization(WHO)?

The World Health Organization (WHO) was a result of the International Health Conference held in 1946, in which, the Constitution of the World Health Organization was passed. And with a majority approval of the United Nation’s members, the World Health Organization was formally established as a special agency of the UN in 1948.

The WHO’s objective is to help people attain the highest possible level of health, which is defined in its Constitution as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. The environment, chemicals, and medical technology certification are also within its domain of concerns. Moreover, the trend of globalization also requires that the WHO play a more active role in international disease prevention, public health improvement, or the exchange of medical technology.

Q2:How does the WHO differ from other international organizations?

Generally speaking, international organizations fall into two categories: governmental organizations, such as ASEAN (the Association of South Eastern Asian Nations), and non-governmental organizations. As an affiliate of the United Nations, the WHO was supposed to be comprised of state-based members. However, since health matters and disease prevention are trans-national matters, the WHO also grants memberships to certain Non-Governmental organizations like the Red Cross.

Q3:Why is Taiwan not a member of the WHO?

The Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan was one of the founding members that proposed for the establishment of the World Health Organization in the 1946 International Health Conference. Therefore, for more than two decades, the ROC (Taiwan) participated in the WHO as a full member and cooperated in the eradication of many epidemics, such as malaria. At the same time, the WHO also played a big role in improving Taiwan’s public health. However, following the admission of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to the UN, the ROC (Taiwan) was forced to withdraw from the UN, with its WHO membership also being replaced by the PRC’s presence. Till today, our efforts to return to the WHO and repeated bids for an observership in the WHO are still hindered by the PRC.

Q4:Is it possiple for Taiwan to join the WHO without a membership of UN?

Since the WHO is an affiliate of the UN and both require state status as a prerequisite for a full membership, Taiwan’s international status is indeed crucial in its obtaining of a full WHO membership. However, political obstruction aside, Taiwan can turn to seek the possibility of an observership, which requires no state status. This will give Taiwan a chance to participate in WHO activities, so that the 23 million Taiwanese people will no longer be denied of their inalienable human rights of having access to the international health network.

Q5:What is the negative impact of Taiwan being excluded from the WHO?

Modern transportation and globalization have made traveling and the shipping of agricultural goods more convenient and frequent. As a result, the spread of diseases and epidemics can go across geographic and national boundaries faster than before. Excluding Taiwan from the WHO puts the people of Taiwan and the rest of the world in danger.

1. Being unable to obtain the latest disease information from the WHO means that we can’t prevent or timely control the spread of diseases effectively. Such a loophole in the global health network is a threat to people’s lives. For example, when the entrovirus epidemic hit Taiwan a few years ago, more than 80 children died unnecessarily due to the short of virus information from the WHO. The latest SARS outbreak also shows that Taiwan’s lack of WHO membership did result in a lot of inconvenience both for the WHO and for Taiwan in the control of this epidemic.

2. Over the years, Taiwan has accumulated significant clinic experiences and quality medical researches, but lacks the proper channels to contribute them to the rest of the world. For example, Taiwan’s experience of eliminating polio can be passed on to countries with similar situations. Besides, Taiwan’s researches on Chinese medicine and related clinic experiences can also be shared and compared with western medicine, for instance, on the fight against AIDS. Being kept from the WHO has prevented us from exchanging such useful information and experiences with other countries.

Q6:The WHO’s mission is to help countries improve their public health condition. Taiwan has done a good job with very little assistance from the WHO so far, take the recent SARS outbreak as an example. Why does Taiwan still need to join the WHO?

Thought lack of WHO assistance, Taiwan has indeed self-reliantly done a good job on improving its public health condition. However, past achievement does not mean we can handle unexpected danger in the future. With new diseases continue to surface and globalization continues to be the trend, Taiwan will always need timely and first-hand information and assistance. Like everyone else in the world, the people of Taiwan deserve to link with the international information network and share medical information and experiences with the rest of the world. We would also like to reach out and help countries that are in need.

1 comment:

Henri Chuang said...

Taiwan's entry into the WHO, in essence, is not a simply health issue. It involves international politics. Facing China's strong opposition and manipulation, I wander how we, a big bunch of people who believe in universal heath rights, can do to help Taiwan. Anyone has good ideas? Are we really hopeless? Hello, help!