New Delhi, May 23: Dr Harsh Vardhan, Minister of Health and Family Welfare was today elected the Chair of World Health Organization’s Executive Board.
“I feel deeply honoured to have the trust and faith of all of you. India and my countrymen, too, feel privileged that this honour has been bestowed upon us. I will work to realise the collective vision of our organization, to build the collective capacity of all our Member nations and to build a heroic collective leadership,” Dr Harsh Vardhan said addressing the 147th WHO Executive Board session as its Chair. The session was held virtually.
WHO is already providing leadership to the entire world in the sphere of public health, engaging with partners for joint actions, shaping the research agenda and stimulating the dissemination of valuable knowledge. The need is to catalyse further change, he said.
Health is central to enhancing human capabilities. Protecting health of those without wealth should be the core philosophy of our close alliance at the WHO, Dr Harsh Vardhan said.
“I have known few greater honours than this one! With this personal honour, I also feel a deep sense of personal responsibility. I may not get there, but I can surely try. And, I promise to try my best,’’ he said.
Congratulating him, Regional Director for WHO South-East Asia Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh said, “Dr Harsh Vardhan has assumed this post at a very challenging time. I wish him all the best in steering the Executive Board as it addresses this defining pandemic and other public health issues.”
“Dr Harsh Vardhan has a rich experience in public health. He is the pioneer of India’s successful pulse polio programme and has been in the forefront in the fight against tobacco and many other issues. The world can now gain from his expertise and experience,” the Regional Director said.
The other countries from WHO South-East Asia Region in the Executive Board are Bangladesh (2019-2022) and Indonesia (2018-2021).
The main functions of the Board are to implement the decisions and policies of the Health Assembly and advise and facilitate its work.
The annual Board meeting is held in January when the members agree upon the agenda for the World Health Assembly and the resolutions to be considered by the Health Assembly. A second shorter meeting takes place in May, as a follow-up to the Health Assembly.
Dr Harsh Vardhan, who took over from Dr Hiroki Nakatani of Japan, would chair the 148th session of the Executive Board in January 2021. At the Executive Board meeting in May 2021, he will hand over to the next Chair from another WHO Region. However, he will continue to be a member of the Executive Board till 2023.