Writer's Block

The USA is the place I was born. Canada is the place I was raised. Taiwan is the place in my heart.

Friday, April 04, 2003

What’s interesting to note in this outbreak of SARS, is how Taiwan has been treated as a part of China, not only by the WHO, but by neighboring countries. Today top SARS-related news included Thailand’s mandate that visitors from Taiwan wear surgical masks for the first 14 days of their visits to Thailand, and Singapore’s Ministry of Health listing of Taiwan as a place that Singaporeans should avoid visiting. Taiwan’s Department of Health has protested these measures against Taiwan, stating the Taiwan was not on the WHO’s list of “off-limits” areas for travel and that the WHO has recognized Taiwan’s efficiency in its quarantine and disinfection drive. So far there have only been suspected cases of SARS in Taiwan; there have not been any confirmed SARS related deaths in Taiwan. The highest SARS death tolls have been in Hong Kong, China and Vietnam. Officials in Taiwan are protesting these Thai and Singaporean measures against Taiwan.

Ironically, Singapore is on the WHO’s list of affected areas, along with China, Canada and Vietnam. An affected area is defined by the WHO as an area in which local chain(s) of transmission of SARS is/are occurring as reported by the national public health authorities. So it is Taiwan that should be taking tougher measures against travelers from Singapore or China. Unfortunately, Taiwan has been lumped in with China by the WHO which has listed Taiwan under China as Taiwan province, though Taiwan has been taking its own measures to contain SARS without the influence or assistance of China.

The WHO’s listing of Taiwan as Taiwan province is not only incorrect because it does not reflect the reality of health management in Taiwan and China, but dangerous because China cannot vouch for nor is it responsible for Taiwan’s public health situation. The only thing that Taiwan can give credit to China for in this epidemic is its denials and lack of complete disclosure.

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