When Mers (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) broke out in Saudi Arabia in April 2012, Bahrain was on high alert. Until December 2017 the World Health Organisation sent a medical team to Bahrain regularly to consult on the development of Mers.
As a Taiwanese, I fully understand the threat of Mers, Ebola and other deadly pandemics. Viruses know no borders and kill people regardless of race, religion or political beliefs.
In November 2002 when the Sars (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak began in Guangdong province of China, the virus travelled through the air and spread to Hong Kong, Vietnam, Taiwan, Singapore, and then the world. WHO sent medical teams to affected areas to tackle it. Since Taiwan is not a member of WHO, it was let alone.
From February 2003 when Sars was first reported in Taipei until July that year, Taiwan was fighting the disease by itself. Hundreds were admitted to hospitals and 60 people died. After Sars, Taiwan has developed an ever stronger disease prevention system.
Taiwan needs WHO as much as WHO needs Taiwan. For instance, Taiwan was the first country in Asia to implement a national health insurance programme, the coverage rate is 99.9 per cent. The quality of medical treatment is very high. In this regards, Taiwan is willing and in a position to share its experience with the WHO and other nations.
To prevent the gap of global disease prevention network, and ensure universal health coverage for all at all ages, Taiwan calls for the world community to support it to participate in the WHO as an observer, beginning with the 71st WHA from May 21-26.