Harsh Vardhan may become WHO head
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Harsh Vardhan may become WHO head

S.Sivadas

S.Sivadas

As more than 100 countries agreed for an independent investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, India is set to take over the chairmanship of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Executive Board.

The Union Health Minister, Dr Harsh Vardhan, will take charge as the WHO Executive Board chairman on May 22, succeeding Dr Hiroki Nakatani of Japan.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, officials said that the 194-nation World Health Assembly had on Tuesday signed the proposal to appoint India's nominee to the executive board.

The Executive Board is “'composed of 34 individuals technically qualified in the field of health, each one designated by a Member State elected to do so by the World Health Assembly'. Notably, Member States are elected for three-year terms

.

The Board meets at least two times in a year – once usually in January and then in May.

Its key functions are to 'give effect to the decisions and policies of the Health Assembly, to advise it and generally to facilitate its work.'.

As per an official, being WHO Executive Board chairman is not a full-time assignment. Dr Harsh Vardhan will just be required to chair its meetings.

Dr.Harsh Vardhan, during the 73rd World Health Assembly (WHA), had said that India took the coronavirus outbreak with 'highest level of political commitment'.

'India took all necessary steps well in time, including surveillance at points of entry, evacuation of nationals stranded overseas, massive community surveillance through robust disease surveillance network, strengthening of health infrastructure, capacity building of over two million frontline human resources, risk communication and community involvement. I think we did our best and we did well.'

He, however, added, 'We are learning and we are confident of doing better in the months to come.'

'I stand here to honour the doctors, the nurses, the paramedics, the scientists, the journalists, the delivery boys, security staff, sanitation staff and the police personnel - the forgotten roles who are today playing ‘superhumans'. They are our real heroes.'

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