Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, there have more than 40 million cases and more than one million deaths around the world. The virus has had an enormous impact on global politics, employment, economics, trade and financial systems, and significantly impacted the global efforts to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), writes Dr. Chen Shih-chung.
Thanks to the united efforts of its entire people, Taiwan has responded to the threats posed by this pandemic through four principles: prudent action, rapid response, advance deployment, and openness and transparency. Adopting such strategies as the operation of specialized command systems, the implementation of meticulous border control measures, the production and distribution of adequate supplies of medical resources, the employment of home quarantine and isolation measures and related care services, the application of IT systems, the publishing of transparent and open information, and the execution of precise screening and testing, we have been fortunate enough to contain the virus. As of October 7, Taiwan had had just 523 confirmed cases and seven deaths; meanwhile, life and work have continued much as normal for the majority of people.
The global outbreak of COVID-19 has reminded the world that infectious diseases know no borders and do not discriminate along political, ethnic, religious, or cultural lines. Nations should work together to address the threat of emerging diseases. For this reason, once Taiwan had stabilized its containment of the virus and ensured that people had sufficient access to medical resources, we began to share our experience and exchange information on containing COVID-19 with global public health professionals and scholars through COVID-19-related forums, APEC’s High-Level Meeting on Health and the Economy, the Global Cooperation Training Framework, and other virtual bilateral meetings. As of June 2020, Taiwan had held nearly 80 online conferences, sharing the Taiwan Model with experts from governments, hospitals, universities, and think tanks in 32 countries.
Taiwan’s donations of medical equipment and antipandemic supplies to countries in need also continue. By June, we had donated 51 million surgical masks, 1.16 million N95 masks, 600,000 isolation gowns, and 35,000 forehead thermometers to more than 80 countries.
To ensure access to vaccines, Taiwan has joined the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility (COVAX) co-led by GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance; the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations; and the World Health Organization. And our government is actively assisting domestic manufacturers in hopes of accelerating the development and production of successful vaccines, bringing them to market as quickly as possible and putting an end to this pandemic.
To prepare for a possible next wave of the pandemic as well as the approaching flu season, Taiwan is maintaining its strategies of encouraging citizens to wear face masks and maintain social distancing, and strengthening border quarantine measures, community-based prevention, and medical preparedness. Furthermore, we are actively collaborating with domestic and international partners to obtain vaccines and develop optimal treatments and accurate diagnostic tools, jointly safeguarding global public health security.
The COVID-19 pandemic has proven that Taiwan is an integral part of the global public health network and that Taiwan Model can help other countries combat the pandemic. To recover better, WHO needs Taiwan. We urge WHO and related parties to acknowledge Taiwan’s longstanding contributions to global public health, disease prevention, and the human right to health, and to firmly support Taiwan’s inclusion in WHO. Taiwan’s comprehensive participation in WHO meetings, mechanisms, and activities would allow us to work with the rest of the world in realizing the fundamental human right to health as stipulated in the WHO Constitution and the vision of leaving no one behind enshrined in the UN SDGs.
The Author, Dr. Chen Shih-chung, is the Minister of Health and Welfare of the Republic of China (Taiwan).