Hontiveros to WHO: Include Taiwan in global COVID-19 response

Published May 25, 2022, 10:18 AM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday called on the World Health Organization (WHO) to include Taiwan in its global pandemic response plan, pointing out that ignoring it would lead to a gap in efforts to curb Covid-19.

Hontiveros, the only opposition lawmaker who won a reelection bid in the May 9, 2022 elections, said it is alarming to note that WHO is neglecting Taiwan in the fight against the pandemic when health experts have been pushing for inclusivity in the fight against the pandemic.

“Ignoring Taiwan creates a loophole in the global health network. Baka ito pa ang simula ng mas marami pang problema o komplikasyon para sa buong mundo (This might even be the start of more problems and complications for the whole world),” Hontiveros said in a statement.

In a parliamentarians’ letter addressed to WHO director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Hontiveros stressed the importance of inclusivity in global pandemic response, pointing out that: “This pandemic has again reminded us that infectious diseases know no borders and every country in the world should work together to address any health concerns and epidemic crises regardless of political considerations.”

Taiwan’s non-inclusion in WHO is due to its decision to recognize China’s “One China” policy and claims that Taiwan is its province and therefore, not an independent state.

Since the United Nations (UN) limits membership to states, it sided with the PRC’s One China policy in which it has commandeered the right to represent all of China in international organizations.

This, despite the fact that Taiwan has functioned as an independent state since the late 1940s.

“Taiwan is an indispensable partner in ensuring a successful postpandemic recovery. We can’t just ignore its plight and contributions,” she pointed out.

She also recalled that Taiwan has been hailed for its highly effective Covid-19 response which is anchored on a strong plan for managing a pandemic that has been in place since the 2003 SARS outbreak.

Hontiveros is among those urging WHO to invite Taiwan to the 75th World Health Assembly (WHA) which is being held in Geneva, Switzerland until May 28.

But the proposal, though backed by Taiwan’s diplomatic allies to put Taiwan’s observer status on the WHA agenda, was rejected.

Nevertheless, the senator said she still recommends that Taiwan be invited to all other WHO meetings, mechanisms, and activities.

“We recognize Taiwan as an independent state and we support its need to be recognized as a nation especially in the matter of the global pandemic response,” she said.

“Excluding Taiwan not only ignores the health and welfare of its 23.5 million citizens, but also puts at risk the 150,000 Filipinos living and working there,” added the lawmaker.