Union health minister Harsh Vardhan

New Delhi: Union health and family welfare minister Harsh Vardhan is all set to take over as the chairman of the WHO executive board on May 22, said reports.

Hrash Vardhan, who has been in the forefront of India’s battle against COVID-19 pandemic, will succeed Dr Hiroki Nakatani of Japan, who is currently the chairman.

The executive board is composed of 34 technically qualified members elected for three-year terms. The chairman’s post is held by rotation for one year among regional groups.

Last year, WHO’s South-East Asia group had unanimously decided that New Delhi would be elected to the executive board for the three-year-term beginning May. In this meeting, it was also decided that New Delhi’s nominee would be the executive board chairman for the first year beginning Friday.

On Tuesday, the 194-nation World Health Assembly signed on the proposal to appoint India’s nominee to the executive board.

The position is not a full-time assignment, however, Harsh Vardhan will have to chair the executive board’s bi-annual meetings in January and in May, said reports.

The health minister, who will continue in the executive board after the one-year term as chairman ends, will have a say in shortlisting the next WHO director general when Tedros Adhanom’s five-year-tenure ends in May 2021.



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