TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan was unable to attend a recent World Health Organization (WHO) meeting on flu vaccines because of political interference from China, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said on March 3, expressing dissatisfaction with the invitation process.
The ministry said Taiwan received a letter of invitation to the WHO consultation meeting on the Composition of Influenza Virus Vaccines at 1 a.m. on Feb. 20, the same day it was due to be held in Beijing.
Because the invitation arrived so late, the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) could not send any representatives to Beijing for the meeting, MOFA said.
Through its representative office in Geneva, Taiwan has filed a protest with the WHO secretariat, MOFA said.
The ministry said the WHO continues to exclude Taiwan from its meetings due to political considerations. Such actions are a serious violation of the Taiwan people’s right to health and may create gaps in the global epidemic prevention network, it complained.
MOFA said that on behalf of MOHW, it had instructed Taiwan’s representative office in Geneva to file a letter of intent with the WHO secretariat office to attend the flu vaccine meeting.
However, the WHO relayed Taiwan’s request to China, in accordance with a secret memorandum signed between them in 2005 and decided not to send Taiwan the invitation until the day of the flu virus meeting, MOFA said.
The WHO should remain professional, resist political pressure, and allow Taiwan’s normal participation in its activities, MOFA said.
It was the first time since 2014 that Taiwan was excluded from the WHO’s biannual consultation on the Composition of Influenza Virus Vaccines.
Each year, one meeting is held in the Northern Hemisphere, and the other in the Southern Hemisphere.
By Yu Kai-hsiang and Emerson Lim