Taiwan was not invited to attend the 70th World Health Assembly (WHA) as an observer in 2017.
For many years previously it had participated in the WHA and World Health Organisation technical meetings, mechanisms and activities; steadily contributed to enhancing regional and global disease prevention networks; and dedicated much effort to assisting other countries in overcoming healthcare challenges in order to jointly realise the WHO’s vision of health as a fundamental human right. Thus there is widespread support for Taiwan to be invited to the WHA.
The WHO needs Taiwan’s participation to establish a sound global health system. Its core objective of uplifting the standard of human health can be achieved through universal health coverage. Taiwan was the first country in Asia to implement a national health insurance programme, which boasts a coverage rate of 99.9 per cent. Medical expenditures in Taiwan account for a mere 6.3 per cent of GDP. Since Taiwan launched its National Health Insurance (NHI) programme 23 years ago, average life expectancy in Taiwan has risen from 74.5 to 80.2 years. NHI is a global benchmark in universal coverage and offers valuable lessons in delivering high-quality, cost-effective medical care for all. Taiwan is willing and in a position to share its experience with the WHO and other nations.
In recent years, Taiwan has established a comprehensive disease-prevention system and organised numerous training workshops aimed at building capacity to prevent Ebola, MERS, dengue fever, and Zika in the Asia-Pacific and Southeast Asia, thereby facilitating collective efforts to strengthen global health security. Meanwhile, Taiwan needs the WHO to protect the health of its own people as well as those in the region and the entire world. Through its participation in the WHA and the WHO, it could share its experience with other countries, make timely reports and acquire information on diseases, and play a constructive role in global health protection. This would create a win-win scenario for Taiwan, the WHO and the world community.
With an interest in making professional health contributions and protecting the right to health, Taiwan seeks participation in the 71st WHA this year in a professional and pragmatic way, in order to become a part of global efforts to realise the WHO’s vision for a seamless global disease prevention network, as well as UN Sustainable Development Goal 3 by 2030 – to ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages.
Taipei Economic and Cultural Office