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Harsh Vardhan takes charge as WHO Executive Board chairman, 3 key posts now held by Indians

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | Byhindustantimes.com | Edited by Sohini Sarkar
May 22, 2020 05:08 PM IST

The Executive Board comprises 34 technically qualified members elected for three-year terms.

Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on Friday took charge as Chairman of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Executive Board at a time when countries across the world are grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic.

The chairman’s post is held by rotation for one year among regional groups.(ANI PHOTO.)
The chairman’s post is held by rotation for one year among regional groups.(ANI PHOTO.)

“I am aware I am entering this office at a time of global crisis on account of this Covid-19 pandemic. At a time, when we all understand that there will be many health challenges in the next two decades. All these challenges demand a shared response,” the Health Minister said after accepting charge as Chairman of WHO’s Executive Board.

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Referring to the country’s prolonged battle against the highly infectious coronavirus disease which has already crossed the 1 lakh mark, Dr Harsh Vardhan said, “India faced Covid-19 in a proactive and pre-emptive way, with unmatched scale and determination. Today we have a mortality rate of only 3%. In a country of 1.35 billion, there are only 0.1 million cases of Covid-19. The recovery rate is above 40 % and the doubling rate is 13 days.”

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The Executive Board comprises 34 technically qualified members elected for three-year terms.

The chairman’s post is held by rotation for one year among regional groups. The main functions of the Board are to implement the decisions and policies of the Health Assembly and facilitate its work.

The World Health Organisation is the global health watchdog currently in the forefront of the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic and also in the frantic search for a vaccine for the deadly infection, which has spread to 183 countries across the globe.

Currently, three key WHO posts are held by Indian representatives.

Dr Harsh Vardhan, who is an ENT surgeon by training, will replace Dr H Nakatani, who is the advisor for international affairs to Japan’s health minister.

Taking charge as chairman of the 34-member Executive Board that usually implements the decisions of the World Health Assembly, Dr Harsh Vardhan will have to work closely with WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

WHO’s initial response to the Covid-19 pandemic has been criticized by many countries led by the United States.

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