by Giuseppe Morabito

Uniting against covid

Two years after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than half a billion confirmed cases and more than 6 million deaths have been reported worldwide. The world today continues to face the challenges of the pandemic, vaccine supply, and post-pandemic recovery.

All nations should work together and prepare for possible future pandemics or variants of the virus known to come from Wuhan. Each individual state then becomes an indispensable partner in ensuring a successful post-pandemic recovery. To contain the pandemic, it is necessary to continue to cooperate with other countries in the research and development of vaccines and drugs against COVID. For those who have them, it has proven most helpful to have donated medical supplies, such as personal protective devices and vaccines, to other countries.

WHO still excluding Taiwan, champion in the fight against the virus

The 75th Assembly of the World Health Organization (WHO, the UN agency specializing in health issues whose budget is largely composed of contributions tied to specific projects) will be held May 22-28. For the past five years, the Democratic Republic of China-Taiwan has not been invited to participate by WHO. To ensure that Taiwan is not left behind and that there is no gap in global health coverage, Taipei has again sought to participate in the assembly this year in a professional and pragmatic manner in order to be able to make its contribution as part of the global effort to achieve an unbroken global network of disease prevention.

It should be noted that while many nations continue to fight the pandemic, Taiwan's results have been largely positive. As of May 10, 2022, about 390,000 confirmed cases and 931 deaths have been reported in Taiwan, out of a population of 23.5 million, and furthermore, through a joint effort by the government and the people, the economic growth rate for 2021 has reached 6.45 percent. Taiwan's National Health Insurance (NHI) system provides comprehensive and high-quality health services, achieving universal coverage, and was ranked second in the world in 2021 by CEO World.

The recipe for success

During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic in February 2020, to reduce the risk of transmission in the community, the government implemented the Entry Quarantine System by integrating NHI, immigration and customs databases to enable big data analysis.

Taiwan was able to contain the pandemic by getting people to lead normal lives and achieving positive economic growth through the careful use of technology, information transparency, strict border controls, and thorough screening and investigation of cases. However, with the worldwide spread of the Omicron variant since late 2021, virus transmission has also begun to increase in Taiwan.

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In North Korea, situation is critical

In the same geographic region, the China Sea, specifically in North Korea, more than a million people have in the past few days had what Pyongyang state media still call a "fever," and , as far as the Korean dictatorial government has leaked, 50 people have died since the first outbreak was detected just a few days ago. Comparing these early figures with Taiwan, the numbers are staggering.

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un has criticized its health care system (North Korea has a population of 26 million) and ordered the military to compete in distributing medicine, ordered pharmacies to be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and a nationwide lockdown has been imposed since Thursday.

Given that North Korea has one of the worst health care systems in the world, it is worrying to learn that as of May 15, in addition to the 50 people who have died, there were 1,213,550 cases of "fever," and more than half a million would currently receive medical treatment. North Korea is likely to need international assistance to overcome the massive wave of covid. The assistance provided by People's China (also grappling with huge problems due to a series of lockdowns imposed in many cities) is not enough to overcome the epidemic, and it is likely to happen that Pyongyang will ask international organizations for help. South Korea has already offered help, despite the political and military situation between the two countries.

Including Taiwan in the WHO

Given what is happening in North Korea, one can hardly understand the rationale guiding WHO decisions and related parties. It seems necessary to support Taiwan's inclusion in the WHO to enable it to fully participate in the meetings, mechanisms and activities of the organization still under the UN.

In the spirit of the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, no one should be left behind.

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Senior Fellow of the Machiavelli Center for Political and Strategic Studies. Brigadier General (Aux.) of the Italian Army, member of the Directorate of the NATO Defense College Foundation. For years director of the Middle East Faculty within the NATO Defense College.