NEW DELHI: Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Friday took charge as the chairman of WHO Executive Board for the year 2020-21. He was elected during the 147th session of the Executive Board, in a virtual meeting replacing Dr Hiroki Nakatani of Japan.
Soon after taking the charge, Vardhan called for further strengthening of global partnerships to re-energize interest and investment in global public health in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic. An ENT specialist by training, Vardhan paid tribute to the lakhs of people who have lost their lives due to the ongoing global pandemic.
“I feel deeply honoured to have the trust and faith of all of you. India, and all my countrymen, too, feel privileged that this honour has been bestowed upon us,” he said.
Acknowledging that this is a great human tragedy and the next two decades may see many such challenges, he added that “all these challenges demand a shared response, because these are shared threats requiring a shared responsibility to act.”
Vardhan also said that “while this is the core philosophy of the alliance of WHO member nations, it needs a greater degree of shared idealism of nations.”
“The pandemic has made humanity acutely aware of the consequences of ignoring the strengthening and preparedness of our healthcare systems,” said Vardhan. “In such times of global crisis, both risk management and mitigation would require further strengthening of global partnerships to re-energize interest and investment in global public health.”
He also underlined the need for higher commitments in respect of diseases that have plagued humankind for centuries, collaborations for supplementing each other by pooling of global resources, an aggressive roadmap to curtail deaths from diseases that can be eliminated, a fresh roadmap to address global shortages of medicines and vaccines and the need for reforms.
“I am sure that constant engagement with member states and other stakeholders will reinforce reforms and help accelerate progress towards achieving sustainable development goals and universal health coverage with the most productive, efficient, and targeted utilization of resources,” he added.
“I will put myself to work to realize the collective vision of our organisation, to build the collective capacity of all our member nations, and also build a heroic collective leadership.”