Disease Knows No Borders

Monday, December 15, 2008

Regarding the Dec. 10 news story "Taiwanese Leader Focuses on Economy":

In an interview with The Post, Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou talked of his hopes that China will allow Taiwan to participate in a meeting in May of the World Health Assembly, an agency of the World Health Organization (WHO).

The world is vulnerable to diseases that call for global collaboration and responses. Regrettably, for more than a quarter-century, 23 million citizens and 400,000-plus foreign nationals residing in Taiwan have been unjustly denied normal access to the WHO and the opportunities to benefit from this major health forum.

Pandemics don't discriminate or recognize borders. Today, Taiwan serves as not only an important hub of international human and cargo traffic but also a transit stopover for hundreds of species of migratory birds. Excluding Taiwan from the WHO has created a gap in the global health network. Left unfilled, that gap could be detrimental to the international effort to fight infectious diseases.

The WHO enshrines in its constitution the attainment of the highest possible level of health for all peoples. Let Taiwan be the WHO's worthy partner.


Potomac Falls, Va.

The writer is a member of the Taiwan-based Overseas Affairs Compatriot Commission.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company