U.S. lawmakers propose setting up disease monitoring center in Taiwan

Several members of the United States Congress on Friday jointly introduced a bill that seeks to establish a U.S.-Taiwan Infectious Disease Monitoring Center within the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) to partner with Taiwan's Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in spotting infectious diseases in the region early.

According to the U.S.-Taiwan Public Health Protection Act, the disease monitoring center will try to provide an early warning in case of an infectious disease outbreak in the Indo-Pacific region.

The center will be staffed by U.S. government employees, including at least three Health and Human Services infectious disease experts and at least one staffer from other federal departments, and may also employ local Taiwanese staff and employees of Taiwan's CDC, according to a press release issued by Republican Senator Tom Cotton, who introduced the bill along with Democratic Representative Ro Khanna and others.

The legislation is seeking for the appropriation of US$1.6 million for the fiscal year 2022 and US$1.35 million each year starting in 2023, to the Department of State and the AIT to be used on personnel and management expenses related to the operation of the center.

"The center shall seek to partner with Taiwan's CDC to conduct health monitoring of infectious diseases in the region by regularly monitoring, analyzing, and disseminating open-source material from countries in the region, including viral strains, bacterial subtypes and other pathogens," the bill said.

The center, it added, would monitor infectious diseases originating in the region, engage in contacts with regional medical and health officials and provide expertise on health threats to the U.S. and Taiwanese governments.

"Our bill will ensure the United States has the resources it needs to monitor health threats emerging in the Indo-Pacific and will allow Taiwan to share its knowledge with the world," Cotton said in the release.

"For too long, the United States has been myopically focused on traditional national security issues and it has hurt our ability to promptly respond to new threats like the COVID-19 pandemic. We must learn from countries like Taiwan that grasped the dangers of this pandemic early on and had success in suppressing it," Khanna said.

Other co-sponsors of the bill are: Democratic Senators Catherine Cortez Masto and Jeff Merkley, Republican Senator Marco Rubio and Republican Representative Michael Waltz.

The bill is supported both by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States (TECRO) and Taiwan's CDC, the statement read.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel