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The World Health Organization is the primary UN specialized agency for coordinating international health initiatives. Established in 1948, the WHO comprises 194 member states and two associate members, which meet every year at the World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva.

The WHO provides leadership on global health matters, shapes research agenda, and sets norms and standards. It articulates ethical and evidence-based policy guidance, provides technical support, and monitors health trends.

Although the ROC was a founding member of the organization, its health officials have been unable to participate in WHO meetings since 1972. But since whole world shares in the responsibility to ensure equitable access to essential care and fight transnational health threats collectively, in 1997, the government launched a campaign to participate in the WHO. In January 2009, the WHO included Taiwan in the implementation of the International Health Regulations of 2005, and Taiwan’s health ministers were invited to attend the WHA as observers from 2009 to 2016.

Taiwan was unable to officially partake in the 2017 WHA, but its diplomatic allies submitted the proposal “Inviting Taiwan to Participate in the WHA as an Observer” as a supplementary item. The Taiwan WHA Action Team, led by the Minister of Health and Welfare, conducted important sideline meetings with diplomatic allies, likeminded countries, and international organizations to muster support for Taiwan’s WHO bid.

In the meantime, Taiwan will continue to assist in disease control and contribute to international medical care in professional, pragmatic, and constructive ways.