World Health Security Needs Taiwan, Taiwan Needs the WHO.

The September 2015 UN Summit adopting the post-2015 development agenda addressed the need to expand upon the Millennium Development Goals by delineating Sustainable Development Goals via the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Among the goals laid out, the third mandates good health and well-being for all at all ages, pledging to promote sustainable development in a way that leaves no one behind. While the Republic of China (Taiwan) is not represented in the UN, it is a member of the global family, and will continue to share its medical resources to contribute to the health of all people and to the attainment of the SDGs. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the World Health Organization’s founding, and that organization’s theme for this year is building better systems for health in the age of sustainable development.

To follow in this same spirit, Taiwan has put together this exhibit to showcase its contributions to global health, made over many decades and many miles.

Taiwan is a medical miracle. In the postwar years, the island was impoverished, sanitation was a nightmare, and contagious diseases bedeviled the population. A step-by-step effort by medical professionals aided by the World Health Organization meant the gradual eradication of malaria, smallpox, polio, and other diseases. The nation dispatched a host of difficulties and introduced a national health insurance program in 1995, becoming the first nation in Asia to do so. Taiwan, moreover, was the fourth country in the world, and the first in Asia, to establish a ratings system for its medical centers. Taiwan has the honor of claiming the first juvenile liver transplant, the first kidney transplant in Asia, and the successful treatment of SARS. Taiwan has been called by The Economist the second-healthiest country on the planet. And, on January 25, 2017, Taiwan established the Biomedical Industry Innovation Program Center, which is mandated to work for the better health of all people.

From humble beginnings, Taiwan has accumulated a wealth of medical knowledge that it has been proud to share with the world. These efforts began with the dispatch of medical missions in 1962, and have continued unabated. In 1996, the Taiwan International Cooperation and Development Fund was established to execute the government’s foreign aid programs including medical and public health humanitarian assistance abroad. In 2006, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Health and Welfare established Taiwan International Health Action (TaiwanIHA), which taps into public and private resources to provide emergency medical aid and to deliver related goods whenever disaster strikes anywhere around the world. In cooperation with domestic hospitals and private organizations, both domestic and foreign, TaiwanIHA dispatches medical teams, donates medical equipment, trains medical personnel, offers scholarships, and provides humanitarian aid worldwide; in so doing it helps underdeveloped and developing nations improve and enhance the capacities for medical care.

Taiwan’s private organizations have grown prodigiously since the 1990s, and often send humanitarian medical teams abroad to work in disadvantaged communities. Their commitment to saving lives has done them, and the nation, proud. Moreover, thanks to the generous donations by the people of Taiwan, indigent patients travel from around the world to Taiwan for treatment of various serious ailments. In 2016, for example, a young girl from Vietnam with lymphatic filariasis, as well a Cambodian boy with a congenital heart problem, were successfully treated in Taiwan.

In monetary terms, since 1996, Taiwan has invested over US$6 billion in international medical and humanitarian aid efforts that have benefited millions of people directly or indirectly in over 80 countries.

Special thanks are due to those organizations that provided the photographs presented in this exhibition. It is to be hoped that this will prove convincing enough of an introduction to Taiwan’s contributions to global health that the world’s nations will see fit to bring Taiwan fully into the world health system. This would facilitate greater joint efforts by Taiwan and the international community in contributing to the SDGs.

Beginning in 2009, the WHO has invited Taiwan to participate in the WHA for eight consecutive years, bridging the gap in global health cooperation and epidemic prevention. Taiwan has won widespread international recognition for its professional participation. The nation looks for continued participation, with the support of the international community and all relevant parties, in WHA and WHO related meetings, mechanisms, and activities in line with the principles of professionalism, pragmatism, and making contributions, and seeks to work together with countries worldwide to realize the UN Sustainable Development Goals as soon as possible.