Indian Health Minister Harsh Vardhan to become Chairman of WHO Executive Board: Reports

Photo courtesy: Twitter/@drharshvardhan
Photo courtesy: Twitter/@drharshvardhan

Indian Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan is reportedly set to take charge as the Chairman of the World Health Organization Executive Board on May 22. 

The minister will succeed Dr Hiroki Nakatani of Japan, who is the current Chairman of the 34-member Executive Board.

According to reports, the proposal to appoint India's nominee to the board was signed by the 194-nation World Health Assembly on Tuesday. 

WHO's South-East Asia group had unanimously decided last year that India would be elected to the executive board for a three-year-term beginning May. With Vardhan being India’s nominee, his taking charge of the post is reportedly just a formality. 

The chairman's post is held on a rotational basis for a period of one year among regional groups. The decision to make India's nominee the Executive Board chairman for the first year was taken in 2019. 

The Executive Board comprises 34 individuals qualified in the field of health. Each individual is designated by a member state elected to do so by the World Health Assembly with member states elected for three-year terms.

The Board meets at least twice a year – a main meeting usually in January, and a shorter meeting in May. 

The WHO has been facing a tough time recently with calls across the world for an investigation into the outbreak and subsequent spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. United States President Donald Trump has frozen American funding to the world health body and recently wrote a scathing letter to the Director-General Dr Tedros, threatening to permanently cut US funding.