Palau has asked the World Health Assembly (WHA), the World Health Organization’s (WHO) decision-making body, to invite Taiwan as an observer in the provisional agenda of its 72nd session slated May 20-28 in Geneva, Switzerland.

Palau’s Health Minister Emais Roberts, in his speech to the WHA on May 20, said that WHO should recognize the rights of the people of Taiwan to participate in the global health system along with the other nations of the world.

Roberts said that Taiwan’s exclusion from WHO endangers global health, saying that its participation in the WHA in the past brought forth meaningful contribution to the improvement of regional and global diseases prevention networks.

“Taiwan helped, and continues to help, many nations in need of medical assistance, reflecting its unshakable belief in the WHO’s vision that the highest attainable standard of health is a fundamental right of every human being,” Roberts said.

Roberts further added that Taiwan’s inclusion will benefit WHO in the realization of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 3 otherwise known as Good Health and Well-being which aims to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being of people.

Aside from Palau, 13 other Taiwan allies such as the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, St. Lucia, Tuvalu, Haiti, Belizi, eSwatini, St. Christopher and Nevis, Nauru, the Solomom Islands, Paraguay, Honduras, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines also submitted letters to WHO asking for Taiwan’s participation at the WHA, according to a report by Focus Taiwan.

Taiwan’s exclusion from WHA dates back to 2017 when Beijing opted to exclude the former from the assembly for its refusal to embrace the One-China principle. Under the One-China principle, Beijing considers Taiwan as its province awaiting reunification to the mainland.

Beijing is one of the five members of the United Nations Security Council which holds the veto power and WHO is one of the specialized agencies of the UN. (By Rhealyn C. Pojas)