Support Taiwan’s Regular Attendance at World Health Organization Meetings | Opinion

Over the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, Taiwan has demonstrated its willingness and ability to participate in the global effort to control the spread of COVID-19.


Taiwan has played an active and helpful role during the pandemic with its countless charitable donations of health care supplies and contributions in areas such as medical research and the development of new vaccines and treatments.

In January, Bloomberg’s COVID-19 Resilience Rankings placed Taiwan eighth in the world, based on factors including vaccination coverage rates, cross-border virus control and quality of healthcare.

Since reopening the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Guam in October 2020, Taiwan has been helping Guam fight the pandemic. Taiwan has donated 200,000 medical masks, four body temperature scanners, 500 prep kits, and recently JAG Technology of Taiwan, a digital technology company, donated a telemedical care platform to the Guam Memorial Hospital.

However, in November 2020, as national representatives from around the world gathered for the annual meeting of the World Health Organization’s World Health Assembly, Taiwan was not invited to join. As of May 2021, the WHO was still ignoring the voices of Taiwan’s WHA invitation. The discussion of the biggest global public health crisis in decades unfortunately has yet to have input from Taiwan.

In fact, Taiwan has not been included in the WHO mechanism since 2017. Continuing to exclude Taiwan will negatively impact global health efforts. Taiwan calls on every nation to support its bid to attend the next World Health Assembly as an observer in May 2022 and to endorse Taiwan’s regular participation in all WHO meetings and activities.

Taiwan and Guam have enjoyed strong ties of friendship and trade for over 45 years. Since April 2008, I Liheslaturan Guåhan has passed legislative resolutions supporting Taiwan’s observer status at the WHO Annual Meeting and has done so proudly again this year, as presented by Vice President Tina Rose Muña Barnes and Senator Frank Blas.

US Assistant Secretary of State Brain P. McKeon met with WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on April 8 to discuss the WHO’s sustainable funding and reform priorities. McKeon also expressed his commitment to Taiwan’s inclusion as an observer at the WHA.

Taiwan can help, and Taiwan helps. Taiwan is an indispensable partner on the road to post-pandemic global recovery and seeks to work with the WHO and nations around the world to jointly overcome all possible public health challenges in the future.

There is obviously significant room for improvement when it comes to Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the WHO. Taiwan urges its international allies and partners to continue advocating for its inclusion in the global health network. As the pandemic has shown, good health is vitally important for every citizen of the world, regardless of nationality. We call on WHO to maintain a professional position and invite Taiwan to WHA as an observer.

Paul Yin-Lien Chen is Director General of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Guam.

Aubrey L. Morgan