Taipei, United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar said at the 71st World Health Assembly (WHA) on Tuesday that it was disappointing Taiwan had not been invited to this year's meeting as an observer.
Addressing the third plenary of the WHA, Azar said the world is now better prepared for a flu pandemic and while there is an internationally agreed upon process and timeline to share flu virus samples rapidly, every country and relevant international institution must do its part in order for such systems to work.
"Thus, it is again disappointing that Taiwan was not invited to observe WHA," Azar said. "It is difficult to reconcile our shared concern over cross-border infectious diseases with excluding representatives of the 23 million people of Taiwan from this gathering."
He urged the WHO to focus on its primary purpose by continuing to address the problems it has had in coordinating worldwide responses to health emergencies and emerging threats of infectious diseases.
"We should never be afraid of more information, more assistance, more cooperation," Azar said.
Meanwhile, at the fifth WHA plenary on Wednesday, Solomon Islands Minister of Health and Medical Services Kaitu'u Tautai Angikimua also expressed disappointment over Taiwan's exclusion from this year's WHA.
"We hope that future participation of Taiwan in the WHA is amicably accommodated so that the 23 million people of Taiwan are not left out," he said. "The decision to not invite Taiwan also indirectly affected millions more people around the globe, including (the) Solomon Islands, who share collaborative commitment of universal health coverage and leaving no one behind for the good and wellbeing of all mankind."
During the plenary meetings, several other representatives of Taiwan's diplomatic allies, including St. Kitts and Nevis, Paraguay, Nicaragua and Haiti, advocated for its inclusion in WHO-related activities.
Due to pressure from Beijing, Taiwan has been unable to attend the two most recent annual meetings of the WHA, the decision making body of the WHO. The 71st WHA officially opened Monday and will run through Saturday.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel