WHO CHAIR … Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan to be chairman of WHO Executive Board

NEW DELHI: In an honour for India, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan will take over as chairman of the 34-member WHO Executive Board on Friday. Harsh Vardhan would take the seat left behind by Dr Hiroki Nakatani of Japan.
The nod for appointment of Harsh Vardhan as the new head of the WHO Executive Board was signed by the 194-nation World Health Assembly on Tuesday. This was as per a decision taken in 2019 that the next board chairman will be from India. This is a three-year-term.
The chariman’s post is not a full-time assignment and Harsh Vardhan will remain as Health minister in India. He would chair the 34-member Executive Board’s meetings. The members are highly qualified individuals in the field of health. The board meets at least twice a year. The Executive Board sets policies of the Health Assembly.
Addressing the 73rd World Health Assembly via video conferencing on Monday, Harsh Vardhan said all the necessary steps were taken by India in advance to curb the spread of coronavirus in the country.
Harsh Vardhan takes over this post at a time when the US has expressed serious misgivings about WHO in its handling of the coronavirus situation, and allegations came from President Bush that the world health body unscrupulously sided with China and downplayed the danger from the virus in the initial phase of the spread. Trump also declared the US would withold funding for WHO, Americans being the major fund-provider for various UN-linked bodies.
Harsh Vardhan, 65, is a doctor (Otolaryngologist; dealing with surgery of the head and neck) by profession. He represents the Chandni Chowk constituency in Delhi. He, as a member of the Delhi state assembly since 1993, held the post of state health minister in 1996. Harsh Vardhan hails from a family of Goels, an Agarwal segment of the population, which deals in trading. 

Harsh Vardhan being part of the largely spread trading (kirana shops) community, the BJP had at one time tried to project him as a counter to Arvind Kejriwal — also an Agarwal — in the Delhi assembly polls, by giving out hints that he could be made chief minister. However, Kejriwal had a larger mass base. IHN-NN

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