WHO Calls Mystery Illness Global Threat!
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|Fri, 03-28-2003 - 9:59am|
Mainland China, conversely, is a member of the WHO, but has refused to cooperate fully with the organization. Beijing has declined to let medical experts into Guangdong Province, where the disease is believed to have originated and where the highest number of cases have occurred. To make matters worse, China endeavored to repress early reports of SARS, and did not notify the WHO of the spreading illness until the situation became too serious to conceal effectively. All the while, Beijing has stubbornly maintained that Taiwan should not be allowed a role in the WHO.
Taiwan was also hindered from obtaining crucial WHO aid and information in 1998, when an enterovirus epidemic spread from Malaysia. At that time, 1.8 million people were infected, 80 were killed, and US$1 billion in economic losses were incurred. The 1998 epidemic was just one of several instances in which Taiwan's exclusion from the WHO created difficulties. Yet despite Beijing's attempts to isolate Taiwan, we have persisted in our efforts to provide humanitarian aid to people in need all over the world. Sponsored by both Taiwan's government and NGO's, our medical experts and aid workers have provided relief and assistance in such disaster and war-stricken places as El Salvador, Afghanistan, South Africa, Chad, Peru, and the Eastern Caribbean. We are committed not only to ensuring the health of people in Taiwan, but of people in every corner of the world.
Presently, when the health and safety of so many are at risk, it should be very clear to all parties that excluding Taiwan from the WHO is both unreasonable and dangerous. Taiwan has a population of 23 million, larger than the populations of 75 percent of WHO member states. Taiwan is also a regional transportation center, receiving 2.19 million foreign visitors every year, with 7.85 million Taiwanese traveling abroad. To ensure health for all, political posturing must be dismissed with. Taiwan should be allowed to join fully in international efforts to fight the spread of SARS, and our people should be allowed representation in the WHO.
William J. Yih
Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York