For Immediate Release
Washington DC – January 14, 2004
Contact: (202) 547-3686
Taiwan Caucus Co-Chairs Urge WHO Chief To Establish Permanent Office In Taiwan
In a letter dated January 13, 2004, the co-chairs of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives urged Dr. Lee Jong-wook, the Geneva, Switzerland-based Director General of the World Health Organization to establish a permanent representative office in Taiwan.
The co-chairs write: “As co-chairs of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus of the U.S. House of Representatives, we urge you to establish a permanent WHO representative office in Taiwan.”
They repeat their earlier plea for Taiwan’s inclusion in the WHO and conclude: “[…] it is critical that all nations, including Taiwan, be given the opportunity to participate in such international health organizations as the WHO.” […] “The recent SARS outbreak underscores the importance of opening such an office. The Taiwanese people should not be left out of the international effort to identify, contain, and treat this deadly virus.”
FAPA President Ming-chi Wu, Ph.D. says: “This is very significant. The establishment of a permanent representative WHO office in Taiwan, will not only contribute to alleviating a practical medical problem in Taiwan it is also another encouraging and important step for Taiwan on the long road to become a
full member of the WHO. Permanent and close interaction between a WHO office in Taiwan and WHO headquarters in Geneva will enable Taiwan to maintain a dialogue with the main WHO bodies – eventually leading to the long overdue full representation of the 23 million people of Taiwan in the WHO.”
Full Text of the Letter
Dr. Lee Jong-wook January 13, 2004
Director General, WHO
Avenue Appia 20
1211 Geneva 27
Dear Director General Lee:
Recently, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) resurfaced in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China. The initial global epidemic of SARS prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) to initiate its Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network. This action provided nations across the globe accurate and timely information,
enabling them to better combat this world health threat.
While we are grateful for the WHO’s concerted response to this global health crisis, we are deeply disturbed that after the initial outbreak, Taiwan was denied assistance when it requested help from the WHO to diagnose and treat suspected cases of SARS. Despite the risk posed to 23 million Taiwanese citizens, the WHO repeatedly rejected Taiwan’s plea for help and placed the health of an entire nation in jeopardy. It is unconscionable that instead of focusing on the health needs of the Taiwanese people, health decisions were
based on politics and China’s short-sighted rejection of Taiwan’s participation in the WHO.
As the pace of globalization quickens and the spread of infectious disease accelerates, it is critical that all nations, including Taiwan, be given the opportunity to participate in such international health organizations as the WHO.
As co-chairs of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus of the U.S. House of Representatives, we urge you to establish a permanent WHO representative office in Taiwan.
The recent SARS outbreak underscores the importance of opening such an office. The Taiwanese people should not be left out of the international effort to identify, contain, and treat this deadly virus.
We look forward to your response.