NGOs to hold exhibition in Geneva to promote Taiwan’s WHA bid

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Several Taiwan NGOs plan to hold an exhibition in Geneva ahead of the World Health Assembly (WHA) from May 21-26 to showcase Taiwan's achievements in medical care and its willingness to participate in the international organization. (CNA file photo, 2018.4.17)

Taipei, April 17 (CNA) Several nongovernmental organizations plan to hold an exhibition in Geneva ahead of the World Health Assembly (WHA) from May 21-26 to showcase Taiwan’s achievements in medical care and its willingness to participate in the international organization.

The Taiwan United Nations Alliance (TAIUNA), the Tyzen Hsiao Culture and Education Foundation, the Taiwan Medical Association, and the Medical Professionals Alliance in Taichung will host the show titled “Hospital Without Borders” in Geneva from May 19 to 21.

Taiwan is not a member of the United Nations or the WHO, but it was able to attend the annual WHA as an observer from 2009 to 2016 when relations with China were better during the previous Kuomintang (KMT) administration.

Beijing has taken a hard line on cross-Taiwan Strait relations since the Democratic Progressive Party took office in May 2016, however, and blocked the WHO from inviting Taiwan to attend the WHA in 2017. The same outcome is likely this year.

TAIUNA President Michael Tsai (蔡明憲) said Tuesday in a radio interview that the exhibition in Geneva hopes to convey the message that Taiwan’s right to international participation should not be compromised due to Chinese opposition.

Tsai said members of his group have been in Geneva during the annual WHA over the past decade displaying banners and distributing leaflets near the WHA venue to raise awareness of Taiwan’s contributions to global medical care and public health.

They decided this year to add the exhibition, which will also take place near the WHA venue, to present Taiwan’s achievements in medical care and national health insurance and its extensive contributions to the global health system, Tsai said.

Noting that Taiwan has contributed NT$70 billion (US$2.43 billion) in medical aid over the past 20 years, Tsai said the show will highlight Taiwan’s ability and willingness to participate in international organizations despite China’s resistance.

Exhibition co-curator Wang Yi-kai (王奕凱) said political factors were inevitably involved in the display because Taiwan’s inability to participate in the WHA is due to political factors.

But Wang called for the removal of political interference in blocking Taiwan’s participation in the international community in matters of health care because epidemics know no borders.

Beyond the NGO presence, Taiwan sent an official delegation to Geneva last year despite being excluded from the WHA to meet with officials from countries participating in the conference and protest Taiwan’s exclusion.

(By Lu Hsin-hui and Evelyn Kao)