Appeal: Taiwan must join WHO as soon as possible

André Gattolin, a French Senator and a Honorary Member of the Global Committee for the Rule of Law “Marco Pannella”, has launched an appeal to ask that Taiwan be admitted as a member of the World Health Organization in light of its effort to timely face the threat posed by the spread of the new coronavirus. The Global Committee fully endorses this initiative through the adhesion of its President, Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata.

As the coronavirus epidemic spreads rapidly around the world, Taiwan manages to drastically contain its spread over an island territory barely larger than Belgium and populated by more than 23 million inhabitants. Despite its close economic and trade ties with nearby China, as of March 22, 2020, Taiwan had 195 cases and two deaths, much lower infection and fatality per capita than those seen in the rest of the world.

However, the country is still excluded from the World Health Organization (WHO).

The Taiwanese government has been able to anticipate the epidemic and maintain its execution capability for both health and economic policies. While many countries around the world have ordered their populations to remain confined, life in Taiwan goes on almost normally: universities, high schools and schools remain open, businesses continue to operate, people move freely.

Following the first case of coronavirus on its soil on January 23, Taiwan immediately implemented an epidemic crisis management system to prevent the spread of the virus. This device was designed and implemented after the traumatic experience of SARS on the island in 2003.

As early as January 24, Taiwanese authorities imposed restrictions on the export of masks and strict customs controls for visitors who had stayed in China in the past 14 days. In addition, 14-day quarantine was enforced to Taiwanese nationals returning from the most seriously affected areas. All new arrivals in the country are now subject to continuous health monitoring. The Taiwanese Ministry of Health and Welfare has banned medical personnel from leaving the country. Currently, Taiwan has 13 million protective masks against the virus available every day to meet the needs of its people. Their production has increased fourfold in one month.

To date, Taiwan remains the only country in the world where all decisions are centralized within a unified and cross-sector command. The Taiwanese Minister of Health and Social Affairs has the authority to co-ordinate measures applicable to customs, the economy, education and transportation. This centralization of information gathering and decision-making is a key factor for effective management of the epidemic.

Taiwan quickly set up its entire health system across the entire potential contamination chain: alert to travelers, tracking of people in contact with contaminated patients, confinement during incubation, quarantine, queues dedicated to suspected cases in hospitals, distribution of masks and hydroalcoholic products … Taiwanese researchers have isolated viral strains of the coronavirus and synthesized the antiviral remdesivirs. They are currently developing screening in just 15 minutes.

Regular disclosure of detailed information continues to play an important role in building public awareness and avoiding the spread of false information and rumors that can cause panic.

Taiwan thus demonstrates its expertise in medical research and prevention along with the quality of its healthcare system, the 9th best in the world (annual Bloomberg ranking of healthcare efficiency for 2018). Taiwan is a major and essential player in global health. However, the country was not invited to participate in WHO’s next annual session, scheduled to take place from May 17 to 21 in Geneva.

To exclude Taiwan from this very important meeting, especially in the exceptional situation we are experiencing, is a critical mistake. This calls into question global health security and that of Taiwan, because health issues ignore borders as this pandemic reminds us.

Taiwan deserves to have its place in all WHO activities. It has a specific role to play in strengthening health systems worldwide, one of the main targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and henceforth in the fight against the coronavirus.

We, health officials, researchers, academics and parliamentarians from all backgrounds, declare that WHO must pay attention and refrain from any political game, diplomatic influences and to abide by its primary vocation, that of protecting as well as possible, the health of everyone on a global scale.

WHO needs Taiwan, just like Taiwan needs WHO.

This is why we urge the World Health Organization to be up to date with current health challenges by allowing Taiwan to participate in its next assembly, in its other meetings and more broadly in all of its activities.

Signatories:

André Gattolin, Sen. Hauts de Seine
Jacques Cattin, MP Haut-Rhin
Constance Le Grip, MP Hauts-de-Seine
Eric Bothorel, MP Côtes d’Armor
Arnaud de Belenet, Sen. Seine et Marne
Richard Yung, Sen. for French citizens overseas
Claude Huriet, Honorary Sen. honoris causa member of the National Academy of Medicine
Elisabeth Lamure, Sen. Rhône
Marie-Noëlle Battistel, MP Isère
Claire Pitollat, MP Bouches-du-Rhône
Laurianne Rossi, MP Hauts de Seine
Patricia Schillinger, MP Haut Rhin
Valérie Thomas, MP Puy de Dôme
Jeanine Dubié, MP Hautes-Pyrénées
Christine Pirès Beaune, MP Puy-de-Dôme
Jérôme Lambert, MP Charente
Laure de La Raudière, MP Eure-et-Loir
Jacques Maire, MP Hauts de Seine
Didier Quentin, MP Charente-Maritime
Jean François Mbaye, MP Val de Marne
Michel Amiel, Sen. Bouches-du-Rhône
Sarah El Haïry, MP Loire-Atlantique
Eric Straumann, MP Haut Rhin
Hélène Conway-Mouret, Sénatrice représentant les Français établis hors de France (Vice-Présidente du Sénat)
Joëlle Garriaud-Maylam, Sénatrice représentant les Français établis hors de France
Joël Guerriau, Sénateur de la Loire-Atlantique
Jean-Jacques Gaultier, Député des Vosges
Damien Abad, Député de l’Ain (Président du groupe Les Républicains à l’Assemblée nationale)
Christophe Bouillon, Député de la Seine-Maritime
Paul Christophe, Député du Nord
Michel Herbillon, Député du Val-de-Marne
Mustapha Laabid, Député d’Ille-et-Vilaine
Philippe Vigier, Sen. for French citizens overseas
Jacques Maire, MP Hauts-de-Seine (President of the group Alliance of Democrats and Liberals for Europe at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe)
Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata, Ambassador, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy
Roberto Rampi, Sen. of Italy
Raphaël Glucksmann, MEP for France
Sandro Gozi, MEP for France

Health professionals

Jacques Marescaux, Professeur de chirurgie digestive, président de l’IRCAD (Institut de Recherche contre les Cancers de l’Appareil Digestif),Membre de l’académie de chirurgie et de l’Académie de médecine
Alain Fisher, Spécialiste en pédiatrie et immunologie, Assistance publiques Hôpitaux de Paris, académie des sciences et académie de médecine, Collège de France
Alexis Genin, Directeur des applications de recherche, Institut du cerveau

Professors

Frédéric Keck, directeur de recherche CNRS, directeur du Laboratoire d’anthropologie sociale
Jean-Yves Heurtebise, Maître de conférences à l’université catholique Fu-Jen à Taipei (Taïwan), chercheur associé au CEFC (Hong-Kong)
Paul Jobin, chercheur associé, institut de sociologie, academia Sinica (Taïwan)
Gwennael Gaffric, professeur associé, Etudes chinoises, Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3
Vinent Rollet, Professeur associé, Institut supérieur d’études européennes, Université de Wenzao Ursuline (Taïwan), chercheur associé au centre d’études sur la Chine contemporaine (Hong Kong)
Jean-François Huchet, professeur d’économie à l’Inalco, Sciences Po Lyon
Stéphane Corcuff, maitre de conférence, chercheur associé au Centre d’Études sur la Chine Contemporaine (Hong-Kong)

Taiwanese representatives

François Chih-Chung WU, Représentant de Taïwan en France
CHENG Shin, ancien représentant de Taïwan en Italie
FAN, Yun, Deputée du Yuan (Taïwan)
LIN Ching-Yi, ancienne Deputée du Yuan (Taïwan)

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