Lithuanian Health Minister Arunas Dulkys on Monday called for a strong response by the World Health Organization (WHO) to Russia's war in Ukraine.
Arūnas Dulkys
Arūnas Dulkys
© DELFI / Karolina Pansevič

In his speech at the WHO's annual assembly, Dulkys said that "health and peace are interrelated".

While Russia has been expelled from various international bodies over its invasion of Ukraine, no such sanctions are foreseen at the World Health Assembly.

"There is no justification for Russia's actions which violate human rights and international law, and we call for a strong reaction to it here, in WHO," the Lithuanian minister said.

According to Dulkys, "ensuring health and well-being of all people is at the core of the WHO's mandate and commitment in all situations, including humanitarian crises and conflicts".

"Health must remain a priority pillar – health professionals must be protected so they can perform their duties," the minister said. "Health systems and medical facilities must be protected so they remain functional, safe and accessible to all those who need essential medical care services."

"It is imperative to ensure safe passage of medical assistance and life-saving medical supplies to all those in need in Ukraine," he added.

According to Dulkys, the war in Ukraine has created a "humanitarian crisis".

Call for Taiwan's participation

In his speech, Dulkys called for global responses to global crises.

"We emphasize the importance of adherence to the principle of effective multilateralism to be able to build a secure global health architecture," the minister said.

"Therefore, we call on you to invite Taiwan to participate as an observer at the World Health Assembly and increase Taiwan's meaningful participation in all World Health Organization forums and mechanisms."

"This step would allow the international community to benefit from Taiwan’s experience and scientific and technical expertise."

Earlier on Monday, however, the WTO annual assembly refused to discuss admitting Taiwan to the meeting.

A dozen countries that have diplomatic relations with Taiwan had formally asked for the issue to be put on the agenda, but the initiative was rejected under pressure from China.

In a letter ahead of the annual assembly, the United States, Lithuania and other Western countries called on the WTO to allow the island in as an observer.

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