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Monday, May 27, 2024

Press Release of Webinar on “Need For Taiwan’s Inclusion as an Observer in the World Health Organization”

On May 23rd, 2024, Red Lantern Analytica conducted a webinar titled ‘Need for Taiwan’s Inclusion as an Observer in the World Health Organisation.’ The speakers for the session were Li- Chien Chien MD, PhD who is a Director, International Medical Centre, National Cheng Kung University Hospital, I-Lin Hsu, MD PhD who is an Associate Professor, National Cheng Kung University from Taiwan, and our very own author Dr Devender Kumar who is also a South Asian and West Asian Studies Expert.

The session started off with the remarks of India’s Taipei Economic and Cultural Centre (TECC), Deputy Representative Bor-Huei Hsieh. He mentioned how this webinar and more widespread call for inclusion for Taiwan is crucial because the World Health Organisation scheduled the 77th session of the World Health Assembly under the banner of “All for Health, Health for All” from 27 May to 1 June of 2024. It includes the participation of many significant high-level country representatives but the distressing part is Taiwan is not included in these sessions. Huy Robert shared the history of Taiwan and the relationship between India & Taiwan elaborately. He said, “Although the island is 36,000 sq.km in size and has approximately 24 million population but Taiwan is a crucial to the world as it is 1st semiconductor producer in the world with 60% world market share and 90% of advanced chips share in manufacturing and secures 2nd place in the design and products of the same. In regards to medical fields, Taiwan has 14 hospitals with internationalisation with JCI accreditation and secured the 3rd spot in the world only after the US and Germany.” Despite these exceptional contributions by Taiwan to the international community in healthcare system Taiwan is unable to participate at World Health Organisation Meetings. He added, “Taiwan is known for high quality with low cost treatment in organ transplantation, cardiovascular and assisted reproductive therapy, facial cranial reconstruction treatments and so on.” He mentioned how the kidney and heart transplantation survival rates are higher than the world average for Taiwan. However, it is an immediate call to have the inclusive healthcare global community with Taiwan in World Health Asssembly (WHA) meetings.

Dr Li Chien Chien shared the relationship between India and Taiwan in the recent times. He also mentioned how Taiwan is not allowed in the participation in international conferences like the United Nations which is an “injustice to Taiwan’s 23 million population.” He further stated, “We are treated like a colony and oppressed by hegemony, Taiwan seeks to collaborate with India to enhance mutual understanding in the medical field.” He recollects the significance of the herbal medicine produced in India which is simply essential for the pharmaceutical industry. He also mentioned, “Though Taiwan is a relatively small market and India is a large country, India can assist Taiwan in its goals. Both countries can collaborate on designing, researching, and aiding people in their respective nations.” He suggested that creation of a communication platform for young people in India and Taiwan would facilitate networking and collaboration through a local distributor in R&D. He concluded by noting that India and Taiwan’s bilateral relation would assist in the global market contributions.

The other speaker who also added intriguing data-backed points for the session from Taiwan was Dr.I-Lin Hsu. He presented from the overview of Taiwan’s demographics i.e. total population with a birth rate of 159,063 per year, median age of 44 years, gender ratio is 49% male and 51% female and around 20% of Taiwan’s population is old-aged. Furthermore, he shared the data and leading causes of death separately for males and females with numbers. The infant mortality rate and neonatal mortality rate stand at 44 and 2.8 respectively according to 2019-2022 data. He also mentioned that Taiwan is ranked the 1st in Healthcare Index by Country (2024) by Numbeo database with 86.0 points compared to the 82.7 for South Korea.  He also shared the following aspects-

Healthcare System:

  • National health expenditure as 6% of GDP as it is covered under the National Health Insurance.
  • Taiwanese government aims for cost stability while maintaining quality for all citizens in the long-run.
  • According to 2022, Taiwan has
    • 480 hospitals (475 hospitals have widely western medicine in practice while the rest follow the Chinese medicine i.e. Needle Puncture)
    • Clinics : 23,000 (11,000 Western, 4,000 Chinese, 7,000 dentistry)
    • 172,000 hospital beds (74 beds per 10,000 population)

Competitive Advantages:

  • PIC/S GMP standards since 2013
  • Reliable clinical trial sites and infrastructure
  • Diverse Culture of Innovation
  • Strong Intellectual Properties Protection
  • Skilled workforce
  • Provision of Government subsidies for foreign partnership: Global Innovation Partnership Initiatives.
  • Amicable towards fundraising and financing

Furthermore, he shared that Taiwan’s six main strengths: High quality, affordability, technology/innovation, patient-oriented service, comprehensive specialties, and leading physicians. With their NHI MediCloud System, Taiwanese share the information so as to reduce the multiple and same tests taken by the patients in different hospitals. The connectivity within Taiwan also strengthens the medical assistance.

Dr. Devendra Kumar discussed the composition of World Health Organisation and shared the rules and regulations of the Observer Status in WHO. He mentioned precisely on how the non-member State can also become an observer of its meetings i.e based on the expertise of the country which makes Taiwan one of the potential and crucial observer at WHA. He said, “Taiwan is the whistleblower and one of the first few countries who mentioned about COVID-19 to the WHO. Precisely the Disease Controller Department of Taiwan has emailed the WHO and the PRC regatding the rise in cases of Pneumonia. However, the false security notions dealt with this situation put the whole human civilisation at risk.” Thus, this provides a substantial need for inclusion of Taiwan in the meetings.

However, the point of contention for the inclusion is only the People’s Republic of China who is suppressing the right of Taiwan. He describes that the revisionist values of Chinese Communist Party led the PRC curbs the right of the sovereign status and also to contain the healthcare system. He said, “Taiwan was earlier part of the assembly but with the replacement of the PRC as the face of China is only for the mainland.” It can be broadly viewed that the membership for WHA meetings is accountability & transparency for Taiwan, this can be well witnessed how Taiwan contributes to the healthcare system in the global community.” In conclusion, Dr. Kumar said, “The warfare has evolved. It’s not just the traditional threats we are facing today, it is the healthcare system that is becoming weaponised.”

The session was ended with Q&A session from the participants and Ms. Kritika from the team of Red Lantern Analytica Red Lantern Analytica delivered the vote of Thanks.

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