Health Min Vardhan elected Chair of WHO Board

India’s Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, will serve as Chair of the Executive Board of the World Health Organization (WHO) for the year 2020-21

May 22, 2020

The announcement was made on May 22, during the 147th session of the Executive Board, in a meeting that was held virtually

Dr. Harsh Vardhan mentioned that India has a mortality of only 3 per cent, with a recovery rate of above 40 per cent for COVID-19

Dr. Harsh Vardhan underlined the need for greater commitment towards disease control, research, global collaborations, reforms, etc

Dr. Harsh Vardhan recently participated in the NAM Health Ministers’ meeting and the World Health Assembly to discuss the pandemic

India’s Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, has replaced Dr. Hiroki Nakatani to serve as Chair of the Executive Board of the World Health Organization (WHO) for the year 2020-21. The announcement was made on May 22, during the 147th session of the Executive Board, in a meeting that was held virtually.

While accepting the position, Dr. Harsh Vardhan paid tribute to the hundreds of thousands of lives lost to the global COVID-19 pandemic. He also requested all the dignitaries present to give a standing ovation to the frontline health workers for their dignity, determination, and dedication. Dr. Harsh Vardhan also shared India’s experience of combating COVID-19, mentioning that the country has a mortality of only 3 per cent, with a recovery rate above 40 per cent.

As the new Chair of the Executive Board of WHO, Dr. Harsh Vardhan underlined the need for greater commitment towards disease control and research, global collaborations, an aggressive roadmap to curtail deaths from diseases that can be eliminated and a fresh roadmap to address global shortages of medicines and vaccines and the need for reforms. He also shared his thoughts on the future of the global health scenario while outlining India’s policy towards ‘Universal Health for All’ through national flagships programmes such as Ayushman Bharat, being led by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan has previously 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. Over the past few weeks, Dr. Harsh Vardhan has participated in several meetings with world leaders to discuss the COVID-19 crisis. These include the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Health Ministers’ meeting, the 73rd World Health Assembly (WHA), and the 32nd Commonwealth Health Ministers’ Meeting. 

The Indian Government has been taking several steps to mitigate the COVID-19 crisis. The PM CARES Fund has allocated US$409 million towards fighting the pandemic. Apart from this, the Government has announced a US$22.5 billion relief package to help the most vulnerable sections of society ride out the crisis. India’s top scientists, engineers, and medical professionals are working together to improve collective understanding of the virus through initiatives such as ‘CovidGyan’, a portal collating vital information for public awareness.