Reuters (09.14.07) - Monday, September 17, 2007
On Friday, Taiwan asked for World Health Organization help to
close a gap in disease control. The statement concerned poor
monitoring of health risks on the island, which is not a
member of WHO. Because China considers the self-ruled island a
renegade province, Taiwan has been denied membership in WHO
and other UN bodies.
Taiwan issued the statement through its diplomatic offices in
Geneva, saying that Beijing had not done enough to implement
WHO's international health rules requiring strict oversight of
disease outbreaks and other threats. Of specific concern was
the handling of two TB patients, one with a multi-drug
resistant strain, who defied a flight ban and traveled from
Taiwan to mainland China through Hong Kong in July.
Taiwan said its disease control agency promptly reported the
incident to WHO and Chinese health authorities, but did not
receive communication on how to contain the contagion "in a
direct and timely manner," since Beijing had been WHO's point
Taiwan's disease control agency "has been totally in charge of
detecting, assessing, notifying, and reporting the case with
effective responses as expected by the [international health
regulations]," the statement said.
WHO rules require countries to disclose potential health
threats from disease, chemical agents, radioactive materials,
and contaminated food. Taiwan enacted the rules unilaterally
but is not in direct contact with WHO since it is not a
Although Taipei intends to implement the global health rules
on its own, it "still needs the cooperation of the WHO so as
to be included, on a de facto basis at least, in the global
system," the statement said. "Therefore, the Taipei delegation
urges the WHO and its member states to look into the problem
and take appropriate actions in helping find a solution to
close the gap in the global disease control system."