New Delhi: World Medical Association, a group of doctors representing 10 million practitioners across the globe has criticised the World Health Organization for partaking in “political games” by excluding Taiwan, Financial Times (FT) reported.
The criticism by the body came close on the heels of President Donald Trump’s decision to cut funding from WHO. Trump accused the body of “severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus”.
The WMA said that WHO’s inability to pay attention to Taiwan’s early warnings caused “errors that led to the world paying a high price” in the 2003 SARS outbreak and the COVID-19 pandemic. It urged WHO to provide increased participation to Taiwan and take notice of its insights in the future, the report added.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has illustrated with terrible consequences how wrong and damaging for global health it is to exclude Taiwan from unrestricted and effective participation in the World Health Organization,” WMA leaders wrote in a letter to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, which was made available on Friday.
Taiwan has alleged that the WHO disregarded its early warnings that the virus might spread among humans and accused it of harbouring a pro-China bias. It has been denied the “observer status” at the UN body’s yearly meeting of decision makers since 2018, the FT report added.
The WHO has been at the receiving end of the criticism, despite there being disapproval of Trump’s decision to cut funding from the body. The US chapter of the WMA was among the first to condemn Trump’s decision terming it a “dangerous move” and urged for international cooperation amid the pandemic.
Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet medical journal, said that the decision to cut funding from WHO is “a crime against humanity”.
“Every scientist, every health worker, every citizen must resist and rebel against this appalling betrayal of global solidarity,” he tweeted.
Taiwan is excluded from the WHO because China – which considers Taiwan to be its territory – insists that other countries and international organisations not accord Taiwan the treatment that is reserved for independent states.
China has, meanwhile, accused Taiwan of using the coronavirus pandemic to gain independence.
Tedros, an Ethiopian microbiologist and former foreign minister, has urged on “honest leadership” from the US and China in the backdrop of the pandemic. He added that he "regrets" the decision of the United States, and blamed Taiwan for targeting him unfairly.
“When we are divided the virus exploits the cracks between us,” Tedros told reporters after Trump’s decision.