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Director-General Scott Lai Calls for International Support of Taiwan's WHA Participation

The Providence Journal published a letter by Director-General Scott Lai of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Boston on May 14. Mr. Lai stressed that Taiwan should be allowed to participate in the World Health Organization (WHO) and the upcoming World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, Switzerland on May 22-31. Taiwan’s exclusion will create significant risk around the world simply due to politics. The letter also calls for safeguarding global health together.

Director-General Lai said that the WHO has yet to invite Taiwan to attend the WHA, the first time since 2009 that Taiwan has been excluded. This has the potential to affect public health and the well-being of the international community negatively, since disease knows no political or physical boundaries.

Mr. Lai also stated that the government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) has expressed deep regret over not being invited to attend the Assembly, and believes that the WHO should not bow to political pressure. Denying Taiwan’s participation not only ignores the health rights of Taiwan’s 23.5 million people, but also causes a breach in the world health system.

The letter mentioned that since 1996 Taiwan has invested $6 billion in medical and humanitarian aid efforts in more than 80 countries. Our rights and responsibilities within the international health system should not be curtailed because of politics. Taiwan’s exclusion is counterproductive and creates a critical gap in the international health-care network.

Mr. Lai reiterated that the ROC government and people of Taiwan very much appreciate the outpouring of support from our friends in the United States, Canada, Japan, and many other countries. In the United States, many have expressed concern and support for Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the WHO and WHA.

The Providence Journal is a leading newspaper in New England with a circulation of more than 200,000 copies, as well as the largest newspaper in Rhode Island. (Mr. Lai’s letter to the editor was in response to “Taiwan pushes for inclusion in global health summit,” by the Associated Press, The Providence Journal, May 8, 2017.)