Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Please Give Us Formal Status, Otherwise It's Meaningless!

A friend of mine forwarded the following letter to me. I thought it's worth reading.

Dr. T

A letter to European Union concerning WHO---From the private sector in Taiwan

Please Give Us Formal Status, Otherwise It’s Meaningless

We sincerely appreciate European Union’s support for Taiwan’s “meaningful participation” in the WHO since last year. However, after our striving for participation we found that only when EU government assists Taiwan to acquire formal status---WHO membership can we be really helped.

1. “Meaningful participation” is limited!

The Foundation of Medical Professionals Alliance in Taiwan has visited the representatives of EU countries in Taiwan early this month, all the representatives said they supported Taiwan’s meaningful participation, but when talking about the status to participate in the WHO, they all told us it’s impossible for them to support Taiwan to be the observer or member of WHO. At the same time Taiwan has only participated in 19 WHO related meetings from June 2005 to December 2006, not to mention our name was changed in some of the meetings. Everyone claimed that Taiwan has participated in 40% of the WHO expert meetings, thus we can roughly make the number of WHO meetings per year as 37. The Foundation of Medical Professionals Alliance in Taiwan has held 3 international conferences within last year, and then we could imagine how many meetings has been held by WHO. Everyone who was medically trained knows that a patient who feels like vomiting could have glaucoma instead of digestive disease; it’s the same that we need complete medical and health information instead of fragmented “meaningful” information.

2.As an international organization, the WHO secretariat should not sign MOU with particular member---China without informing other member states and stipulate that every conference information given to Taiwan should go through Beijing government first.

Mr. BURCI, the Legal Counsel of WHO once said privately that the WHO related meetings contain various fields that we are not able to confirm how many meetings have been held WHO! Thus we have no idea that Taiwan has been excluded from how many “meaningful” meetings. Accordingly, it is meaningless to talk about the number of meetings in which Taiwan has participated. The WHO Secretariat signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with China which requires WHO authorities to “consult with the Chinese government” before offering any information to Taiwan or inviting Taiwan to the meetings.Transparency is the most important for an international organization. The secretariat of WHO should not sign the MOU with particular members separately. The content of the MOU could damage the rights of other member states. What’s more ridiculous is that China is the country aiming 800 missiles at Taiwan! The WHO secretariat has made a serious mistake to let China decide which meetings are meaningful for Taiwan! Please urge the WHO to reveal the details of the MOU publicly to protect the rights of every member state and facilitate EU countries’ support to Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the WHO.

3. Untransparent epidemic situation in China is threatening the world, and Taiwan is the first to be affected!

China was hiding the epidemic situation during SARS attack, which led to the SARS outbreak in Taiwan, the people of Taiwan had suffered the trauma mentally and physically at that time, this has been well known by the world. Beijing is currently having the rabies outbreak, there had been 1,735 people reportedly died of rabies during January to August 2006. The Beijing government was forced to set the “one dog” policy for every household. Taiwan, as an island country and China’s close neighbour, has completely eradicated rabies since 1959; however, the animal smuggling and untransparent epidemic situation in China have put Taiwan under tremendous threat. For the people of Taiwan, the biggest insecurity comes from China! All the WHO related information given to Taiwan have to go through the country which is lagging behind on health and hostile to Taiwan---China first. All the people of Taiwan are terrified by the disease coming from China including avian flu.

Again we appreciate European Union’s support for Taiwan, but the statement above has proved that the so called “Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the WHO” is hard to be executed through current approach, including letting China decide which information and meetings are meaningful for Taiwan on the basis of the MOU signed between China and the WHO secretariat.

For Taiwan, only when we gain the formal status of WHO can we get the overall health information. Therefore, we appeal to EU for changing their policy and “supporting Taiwan to be the member of WHO”!

Dr. Shuh-Min WuPresident, Foundation of Medical Professionals Alliance in Taiwan

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