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Harsh Vardhan set to take charge as WHO Executive Board chairman

Harsh Vardhan

Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan who is at the forefront of India’s fight against COVID-19, is set to take charge as the chairman of the World Health Organization (WHO) Executive Board soon.

Various reports doing rounds state that he would be taking charge on May 22, replacing the current chairman Dr Hiroki Nakatani of Japan.

The Executive Board which comprises 34 technically qualified members elected for three-year terms, will be holding a meeting on May 22 where Vardhan would be elected as chairman. The post of the chairman is held by rotation for one year among regional groups.

The proposal to appoint India’s nominee to the executive board was signed by the 194-nation World Health Assembly on Tuesday, officials said on condition of anonymity, a PTI report said.

The main functions of the Executive Board are to give effect to the decisions and policies of the Health Assembly, to advise it and generally to facilitate its work. The Board meets at least twice a year and the main meeting is normally in January, with a second shorter meeting in May, immediately after the Health Assembly.

Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan had on Monday participated in the 73rd World Health Assembly (WHA) via video conferencing. WHA is the decision-making body of the World Health Organisation.

In his address, Health Minister had expressed his “deepest condolences” at the loss of lives across the world due to COVID-19 and also expressed his “sincere gratitude” for the efforts of those who are in the frontline of this battle.

“We, in India, undertook the COVID-19 challenge with the highest level of political commitment. Our Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, personally monitored the situation and ensured a pre-emptive, pro-active and graded response, leaving no stones unturned to contain the deadly virus from spreading,” Harsh Vardhan had said.

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