Written by T.Y. Wang and Ching-Hsin Yu. The worsening prospect of the pandemic has led to two dozen state governments taking drastic measures by ordering all residents to stay in their homes, restricting the movement of more than 200 million Americans. As a result, schools are shut down, restaurants are closed, and the airlines have dramatically reduced their scheduled flights. The American economy has ground to a halt with a record 3.3 million Americans applying for unemployment benefits. In contrast, several thousands of miles away, Taiwan has been able to keep the number of coronavirus infections relatively low.
Written by Shun-Te Wang. As Chinese influence infiltrates everyday life in Kinmen, local politicians still find it challenging to predict local opinion over border control issues. In early February 2020, 6 kilometres away from China, a dissatisfaction toward the government’s Coronavirus prevention measures became prominent on the Kinmen island. The island’s public demand that Taiwanese central government, which is 300 kilometres away from Kinmen, to suspend the “Three Links” to prevent the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) from entering.
Written by Sam Robbins. The coronavirus has become a hot topic of conversation on Taiwan’s popular social networking site, D-cart. This has become a space for (primarily university students) to share or ask for relevant information about the disease, but also to share their fears and difficulties that have resulted from the virus. A recurring theme on the discussion board are stories from international students—for example, from Hong Kong—who are not sure of their ability to return to study in Taiwan.
Written by Josie-Marie Perkuhn. As a precaution, most flights have been suspended, and entry spots have restricted access, such as maritime passages via Kinmen, Matsu or Penghu Island. President Tsai also assured that “as long as the two sides fully communicate and cooperate, I do believe that we will be able to take good care of our people”. However, controversy arose when on February 3rd evacuees arrived. Three of the 247 people on the charter flight had not been on the priority list, which Taiwan provided to China, and one was tested positive, becoming the 11th patient in Taiwan to be diagnosed.
Written by Tsung-Mei Cheng. Taiwan government’s most favoured policy for fighting Covid-19 initially is to prevent it from entering Taiwan in the first place, according to Ming-Liang Lee, former health minister, “Czar of SARS” — commander-in-chief in the debacle against Taiwan’s 2003 SARS epidemic, and now a senior adviser to Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen. To this end, Taiwan implemented strict travel advisories and entry protocols tiered by the risk level of the countries in question.
Written by Kai-yuan Cheng. Perhaps most fundamentally, Taiwan needs to make young Taiwanese believe that, despite our sad past and difficult present, going into global health as a Taiwanese is a promising career filled with opportunities and excitement. Building a global health-informed civil society will appeal to the new generation of governance bodies whose more flexible frameworks are ready to engage Taiwan, not necessarily because of the globalist ideal of leaving no one behind or the humanitarian concern for the Taiwanese population health, but because we have something to offer.
Written by Najee Woods (葉正忠). 23.5 million Taiwanese citizens have been neglected by WHO since being expelled from the United Nations in the early 1970s. Since the late 1990s, Taiwan has attempted on numerous occasions to gain observer status within WHO, but requests were not considered in the WHA agenda. Taiwan does not have the same privileges that other WHO member-states enjoy, such as access to information on the latest outbreaks and epidemics. The lack of access to WHO databases detrimentally affects the Taiwanese population and further creates a blind spot for potential diseases to spread throughout the entire global network.
Written by Kai-Yuan Cheng, Po-Han Lee, Po-Chang Tseng, Yunhung Jordy Tu, Shun-Te Wang. In this context, the exclusion of the Taiwanese people – currently represented by the Republic of China – from the largest world health institutions (e.g. WHO, United Nations) is no longer justifiable. Nonetheless, the reanimated Cold-War dynamics between China and the US have marginalised the Taiwanese people’s needs and voices yet again.
Written by Jane Pei-Chen Chang and Kyle Kai-Yuan Cheng. If there is a single strongest conviction behind Taiwan’s tireless fight for its representation in global health, it is that Taiwan takes it as a responsibility to work together for the advancement of human health as a whole.