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June 27, 2017

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Panama's Taiwanese vow support for WHA bid

By Kuan-lin Liu -- The Taiwanese community in Panama has convened a meeting to express its support for Taiwan's bid to attend this year's World Health Assembly (WHA).

With the registration deadline for the World Health Organization's (WHO) annual decision-making summit having passed without an invitation for Taiwan, the government and citizens alike have taken measures into their own hands, continuing to petition the organization for the right to be present at the 71st WHA.

In a statement written and signed by Panama's Taiwanese nationals, including members of the Taiwan Chamber of Commerce in Panama and the Taiwanese Association of Panama, the signees listed four key points regarding Taiwan's right to health and participation in the international medical community.

The statement read that first and foremost, "Taiwan's 23 million people have a right to health that cannot be ignored" — a statement that echoed previous government releases calling Taiwan's absence at the assembly harmful to the Taiwanese people.

Other points in the statement included one reading that Taiwan "should not become a gap in the global efforts for medical preventions of epidemics" and another that favored Taiwan becoming a member of the WHO given its contributions to advancements in health care.

The last point of the statement touched on the sensitive topic of cross-strait relations, saying that mainland China should not sacrifice for political reasons the Taiwanese people's right to health.

Large Overseas Support

 Panama's Taiwanese population is not the only one that has voiced support for Taiwan's participation at this year's WHA. According to reports from the Overseas Community Affairs Council, Taiwanese all over the world have done likewise.

Particularly prominent populations include those in the U.S., Canada, France, the Netherlands, South Africa, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Still Trying

The Health Ministry previously reported after the passage of the May 8 registration deadline that it was still trying to get in touch with the WHO for an invitation to the grand assembly.

Local media quoted Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) as saying that the registration deadline's expiration was "not time for us to give up."

The WHA will take place next Monday, until the end of May in Geneva. Chen has stated that he will lead a delegation to Geneva to meet with attendees and NGOs on the sidelines of the assembly regardless of an invitation.

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