TAIPEI (CNA) — The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) on Feb. 19 urged the World Health Organization (WHO) to include Taiwan in its push for universal health coverage.

“The 23 million people of #Taiwan have no access to the World Health Organization,” MOFA said in a tweet. “Sadly, they were never even given a choice. As #WorldHealthDay looms large, we remind @WHO that #HealthForAll can only be achieved with #AllHandsOnDeck.

#TaiwanCanHelp.” Alongside that comment, the ministry also retweeted a WHO statement that was made earlier in the day to address the issue of universal health care.

“Millions of people still have no access at all to health care,” the WHO said in its tweet. “Millions more are forced to choose between health care & other daily expenses such as food, clothes & even a home.

That is why WHO is focusing on universal health coverage for this year’s #WorldHealthDay.” World Health Day, a global health awareness day, is celebrated annually on April, 7.

The Taiwan government has been pushing for an invitation this year to the World Health Assembly (WHA), the decision-making body of the WHO, following Taiwan’s exclusion over the past two years due to pressure from China.

In the period 2009-2016, Taiwan participated in the WHA as an observer, under the name Chinese Taipei, with the help of the United States and amid better relations with China during the then Kuomintang administration.

Since 2017, however, China has persuaded the WHO not to invite Taiwan, in line with Beijing’s hardline stance on cross-Taiwan Strait relations after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the Democratic Progressive Party took office in May 2016.

In 2017 and 2018, Taiwan sent delegations to Geneva to protest its exclusion from the WHA and to meet with delegates on the sidelines of the forum.

By Joseph Yeh