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June 26, 2017

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Taiwanese lawmakers call for full membership in WHO

GENEVA--Two Taiwanese lawmakers voiced Taiwan's hope of becoming a full member of the World Health Organization (WHO) after they arrived with a delegation in Geneva to attend the annual World Health Assembly (WHA) from May 21-26.

During a welcome reception held by Taiwan's representative office in the Swiss city for the delegation that evening, lawmakers Su Ching chuan of the ruling Kuomintang and Lin Shih-chia of the minor opposition Taiwan Solidarity Union called for full WHO membership for Taiwan.

Lin reiterated that Taiwan is not a part of China and said the best way for Taiwan to participate in the WHO would be as a full member, while Su asked officials of Taiwanese allies present at the reception to support Taiwan's bid for full membership in more international organizations.

This is the fourth year that Taiwan is attending the WHA — WHO's decision-making arm — since it was first invited to participate as an observer under the name of Chinese Taipei in 2009.

Prior to the reception, some of the members of the delegation, including Deputy Health Minister Hsiao Mei-ling, who left Taipei on Friday, went to check Taiwan's seat at the WHA venue, which is arranged in the same position as last year.

The members said in a delegation press release that they plan to take a more active part in discussions of issues such as universal health coverage, health promotion and flu pandemics during this year's conference.

Health Minister Chiu Wen-ta, who plans to discuss Taiwan's national health insurance program in a five-minute address to the assembly, departed Taipei along with the remainder of the delegation on Sunday after attending President Ma Ying-jeou's inauguration ceremony, and is scheduled to arrive Geneva on the opening day of the WHA.

After attending the WHA, Chiu will head to Brussels to seek European Union support for Taiwan's wider participation in WHO activities.

He will visit the Directorate-General for Health and Consumers under the European Commission and will give a speech at the European Institute for Asian Studies.

Meanwhile, a campaign group organized by a private organization from Taiwan marched around Lake Geneva earlier in the day, handing out flyers to seek support for Taiwan's full WHO membership.

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