Harsh Vardhan takes charge as WHO Executive Board chairman

New Delhi (NVI): Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan was today elected as Chair of the Executive Board of World Health Organization for the year 2020-21.

He replaced Dr Hiroki Nakatani of Japan, in a virtual meeting held today during the 147th session of the Executive Board.

Accepting the Chair of the Executive Board, Dr Harsh Vardhan paid tribute to the lakhs of people who have lost their lives due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said in a statement.

“I feel deeply honoured to have the trust and faith of all of you. India, and all my countrymen, too, feel privileged that this honour has been bestowed upon us,” he said.

The Health Minister said that Covid-19 is a great human tragedy and the next two decades may see many such challenges. “All these challenges demand a shared response because these are shared threats requiring a shared responsibility to act,” he said.

“While this is the core philosophy of our alliance of member nations that comprise WHO, however, it needs a greater degree of shared idealism of nations,” he said.

During the session, Dr Harsh Vardhan also shared India’s experience of combating COVID-19. “We have a mortality of 3 per cent only. In a country of 1.35 billion, there are only 0.1 million cases of COVID19. The recovery rate is above 40 per cent and the doubling rate is 13 days,” he said.

Dr Harsh Vardhan has also been a member of several prestigious committees of WHO like Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) and the Global Technical Consultative Group (TCG) on Polio Eradication. He has also served as an Advisor to the WHO.

The Executive Board of WHO is composed of 34 technically qualified members elected for three-year term. The main functions of the Board are to implement the decisions and policies of the Health Assembly, and advise and facilitate its work.