An inclusive WHO or WHO-Members only!! | Daily News
Point of View:

An inclusive WHO or WHO-Members only!!

Taiwan was one of the first to curb the spread of the Corona Virus by taking immediate and efficient action. The timely measures and restrictions taken by Taiwan were more effective than the extreme steps taken in many other places.

Taiwan’s model of fighting COVID-19 was an example of how to effectively prevent or better response to the public health crisis. As early as 31stDecember 2019, health agencies in Taiwan noted a case of a typical virus in Wuhan, with a human to human transmission and alerted the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The WHO only on January 14, 2021, the global health institution tweeted saying “preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in #Wuhan, #China.”

Two weeks later, the WHO declared Covid-19asa Global Health Emergency. The virus by then had started to spread like wildfire and there was no means to contain it anymore. One could only look back in hindsight wishing for corrective action then.

Taiwan has emerged as self-reliant and vigilant in dealing with the pandemic from the experiences of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), 2003and H1N1 pandemic in 2009.

It also stood out in the COVID-19 pandemic as an example of successful early detection, prevention and outbreak control.

In spite of having proved itself as an expert in public health care monitoring and response, Taiwan stands excluded from the World Health Organisation, to the point that even its alert and early warning that could have alerted the international community and various governments at large were ignored just because of the fact that Taiwan is not a member of WHO.

Foreign Minister of Taiwan Jaushieh Joseph Wu stated that “Taiwan is willing and able to share its health care resources and expertise with the rest of the world. Inclusion of Taiwan in the activities, mechanisms and meetings of the World Health Organization will help realize Health for all.” He added that “Disease shows no respect for borders or members and nonmembers. A concerted global effort can overcome the challenges posed by the pandemic.” The inclusion or exclusion of members in the World Health Organisation should be looked at on humanitarian grounds with non-partisan approaches. Public health should prevail over politics. Health and well beings are as important as the right to life itself and this should be the driving force of a global institution.

The charter of the World Health Organization also states that “The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, and political belief, economic or social condition.”

The organisation should be all inclusive and based on the competency of all including nonmembers. Article 2 of the WHO charter further states that “In order to achieve its objective, the functions of the Organization shall be: to establish and maintain effective collaboration with the United Nations, specialized agencies, governmental health administrations, professional groups and such other organizations as may be deemed appropriate;”

Exclusion is a barrier for exchange of ideas and sharing of vital information. Such exclusions could not just prevent the fullest attainment of better health for all, but also endanger lives. Unequal development in different countries in the promotion of public health and control of disease, especially communicable disease, is a common danger.

The extension of knowledge of the benefits of medical, psychological and related knowledge to all peoples is essential to the fullest attainment of health.

The Formosa Club Indo-Pacific was launched virtually on May 7th, 2021 in the presence of Deputy Foreign Minister Tien Chung-kwang as an inter-parliamentary group consisting of Taiwan and other members who shared values on democracy, freedom and human rights.

International Organizations handling basic human rights have a responsibility towards all people of the world and should be apolitical and encompassing the entire world. Inability to do so would only emphasize the creation of regional or smaller groups created by the neglected to essentially do the same functions.

Article 8of the WHO charter also states that “Territories or groups of territories which are not responsible for the conduct of their international relations may be admitted as Associate Members by the Health Assembly upon application made on behalf of such territory or group of territories by the Member or other authority having responsibility for their international relations.

Representatives of Associate Members to the Health Assembly should be qualified by their technical competence in the field of health and should be chosen from the native population.

“The nature and extent of the rights and obligations of Associate Members shall be determined by the Health Assembly.”

Informed opinion and active cooperation among the members of the international community are critical in dealing with any pandemic of this scale. The World Health Organization should take note of the concerns of global citizens and work towards fulfilling its statutory obligations and expectations concerning health related issues of the world at large and not selectively.

About the writer:

Sumit Bothra is a scholar pursuing International Relations at the Department of Politics & Public Administration, University of Madras. He is also Chairman, Chennai Chapter-Public Relations Council of India (PRCI).