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Group to push Taiwan at WHA
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Doctors, medical students and medical workers take part in a news conference in Taipei yesterday to announce a crowdfunding project for medical white papers to promote Taiwan./Photo courtesy of Taipei Times

The Taiwan Association for Global Health Diplomacy (TAGHD) yesterday said that it has launched a crowdfunding campaign to increase the nation’s visibility ahead of the annual World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, Switzerland, next month.

TAGHD is a non-governmental organization of more than 50 young Taiwanese with professional backgrounds in healthcare, marketing, design, engineering, technology and other fields.

Taiwan in the past two years has not received an invitation to attend the WHA as an observer due to Chinese pressure after President Tsai Ing-wen took office in 2016.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs earlier this month said that an invite is also unlikely this year.

The association said that it is inviting medical practitioners to assist them in writing white papers about the nation’s healthcare industry that 15 members are to take to Geneva to promote Taiwan to the world.

TAGHD convener Chiang Kuan-yu  , a physician, said that one of the agendas for this year’s WHA is “primary healthcare,” so the association is to share Taiwan’s experiences in the area and display how it can further contribute to global healthcare.

The members are also to hold an exhibition to showcase the nation’s advanced telemedicine technology, as it could be used to help people in remote areas around the world.

An association member who goes by the pseudonym Yang Hsin-tzu  said that Taiwan could contribute to the international healthcare community through its National Health Insurance system, training of medical practitioners from other countries and disease prevention programs, among other things.

Taiwan is a “model student” in global healthcare, but it is being isolated by the WHO, she said, adding that as the situation threatens the health of more than 23 million Taiwanese and creates a loophole in the global disease prevention safety net that could put the world at risk.

Taiwan Center for Drug Evaluation researcher Lai Tzu-jung said that African swine fever has spread throughout China, but a Taiwanese biotechnology firm developed a rapid screening kit for the disease and became the first in Asia to be recognized by the World Organization for Animal Health.

Taiwan has shown that it can help achieve the goal of universal healthcare, so the WHO should not neglect it, as Taiwan also needs the WHO, she said.

The association aims to raise NT$500,000 in the first phase, followed by NT$700,000 and NT$900,000 in the second and third phases respectively.

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