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Feb 19, 2021 | Health, In The News

Nearly 40 members of the US House of Representatives on Thursday led a bipartisan effort to back Taiwan’s bid for observer status in the WHO.

After the US rejoined the WHO following US President Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20, US representatives Brad Sherman, a Democrat, and Young Kim, a Republican, on Thursday introduced a bipartisan bill that would direct the US secretary of state to develop a strategy to regain observer status for Taiwan in the WHO.

“Taiwan remains a model contributor to world health, having provided financial and technical assistance to respond to numerous global health challenges,” the bill says.

“Since 1996, Taiwan has invested more than US$6 billion in international medical and humanitarian aid efforts in more than 80 countries,” it says.

“In 2014, Taiwan responded to the Ebola crisis by donating US$1 million and providing 100,000 sets of personal protective equipment,” it says.

“In 2020, after successfully containing the spread of the novel coronavirus within its borders while upholding democratic principles, Taiwan generously donated millions of pieces of personal protective equipment and COVID-19 tests to countries in need,” it says.

“Diseases know no borders, and Taiwan’s needless exclusion from global health cooperation increases the dangers presented by global pandemics,” it says.

The bill would also require an account of the changes and improvements the US secretary of state has made to the US plan to endorse and obtain observer status for Taiwan at the World Health Assembly (WHA), the decisionmaking body of the WHO, following any annual meetings of the WHA at which Taiwan does not obtain observer status.

The cosponsors of the bill include Ami Bera, chairman of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and Nonproliferation; Steve Chabot, cochair of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus; and Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Republicans’ China Task Force.

Similar bills were proposed in January 2019 in the House of Representatives and in May last year in the Senate, only to be shelved.

Taipei Times

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