Health body brought lots of politics and a dearth of information, says official The head of Taiwan's recently disbanded Sars taskforce said the island might think twice about co-operating with the World Health Organisation in future, after its experiences during the outbreak. Lee Ming-liang said authorities were at times frustrated by dealings with the global health body. 'Why should we so faithfully and so honestly disclose every single case to them, and then let us get stuck with this advisory and find it hard to get off it because it's a political issue,' he said. Mr Lee was appointed to head the cross-ministerial taskforce in mid-May and said that co-operation with the WHO had resulted in many 'negatives', one of them being Taiwan's inclusion on the body's travel advisory list. 'This year, we really did have second thoughts on our quest to [work with] the WHO. Of course, you always like to be part of the big family, you like to share the experiences ... It's a mutual thing. We need the WHO the same as the WHO will need Taiwan,' he said. The former head of the department of health said his view was personal and did not represent the official view of the government or the health department. Mr Lee, who is a friend of the current health chief, Chen Chien-jen, and former chief, Twu Shing-jer, said the frustration with WHO political issues was felt by many in the health department. He said it took nine extra days for Taiwan to be removed from the advisory list because of mainland interference, a charge that both the central government and the WHO deny. 'We know through informal information, for example that the vice-health minister of China, Gao Qiang, openly said that they did not want Taiwan to be lifted [from the advisory list] before Beijing,' he said, while admitting that he could not prove the allegation. Lack of information from the WHO, which referred questions from Taiwan to mainland authorities, was a key frustration for the taskforce. 'At that time, if we wanted some information from China, it was impossible ... The data released on the [WHO] website was next to useless. We had to talk to people and make phone calls to see if we could get some information indirectly,' he said. Mr Lee said that while the support of the WHO team, led by Cathy Roth, was much appreciated, it did not prevent any deaths. 'They did help us, but they didn't make any fundamental changes or make that much difference,' he said. Mr Lee said Taiwan had tackled the Sars outbreak with little help from the WHO. A post-Sars report, due to be presented to the government in the coming month, will recommend some fundamental changes to Taiwan's health system. Among them, Mr Lee will recommend improvements in infection control, which he says is adequate for normal diseases but not for those such as Sars. He also noted the need for major changes in public-health education. 'The health behaviour of the public has to change,' he said.