In a letter to WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the leaders of the World Medical Association, WMA say that the WHO’s failure to listen to early warnings from Taiwan about the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with its decision to ignore Taiwan during much of the SARS crisis, were errors that led to the world paying a high price.
Dr. Miguel Jorge, President of the WMA, and Dr. Frank Montgomery, Chair of the WMA Council, write: ‘The COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated with terrible consequences how wrong and damaging for global health it is to exclude Taiwan from unrestricted and effective participation in the World Health Organization.”
They urge Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus to allow a delegation from Taiwan to attend the next World Health Assembly, adding: ‘We urge you to make such a step and not to allow the WHO becoming involved any more in political games’.
For several years, Taiwan was given observer status at the World Health Assembly, but in recent years it has been locked out by the WHO as a result of the ‘One China’ policy. The WMA argues that the inclusion of Taiwan is a health matter and not a political issue.
Dr. Montgomery, Chair of the WMA Council said: ‘During the SARS crisis in 2003, WHO delayed its assistance to Taiwan. And again, when Taiwan warned very early about the Corona threat and demonstrated probably the most effective strategy against its spread, offering to share its experience, the WHO did not listen.
‘Locking out the 23 million people of Taiwan in this way is unacceptable. All nations, regions and territories should be part of the WHO network. As physicians we utterly reject the idea of the political instrumentalization of global health’.