Geneva: India’s Health Minister Dr
Harsh Vardhan, who was on Friday elected as the new Chair of Executive Board of
WHO (World Health Organization), exhorted countries to facilitate a “shared
response” to tackle “shared threats” like the novel Coronavirus pandemic.
“All these challenges demand a
shared response, because these are shared threats requiring a shared
responsibility to act. While this is the core philosophy of alliance of member
nations that comprise the WHO, it needs a greater degree of shared idealism of
nations,” he said, while cautioning that the next two decades may see many such
Vardhan assumed the new post during
a virtual meeting held as part of the 147th session of the
Executive Board. He has replaced Dr Hiroki Nakatani of Japan.
“The pandemic has made humanity
acutely aware of the consequences of ignoring the strengthening and
preparedness of our healthcare systems. In such times of global crisis, both
risk management and mitigation will require further strengthening of global
partnerships to re-energize interest and investment in global public health.”
He also shared India’s experience
in combating Covid-19. “We’ve a mortality of 3 per cent only. In a country of
1.35 billion, there are only 0.1 million cases of Covid-19. The recovery rate
is above 40 per cent and the doubling rate is 13 days.”
As the new Chair of the Executive
Board of WHO, Dr Harsh Vardhan underlined the need for higher commitments to
tackle diseases that have plagued humankind for centuries, collaborations to
supplement each other by pooling of global resources, an aggressive roadmap to
prevent deaths from diseases that can be eliminated, the formation of a
strategy to address global shortages of medicines and vaccines and the need for
Vardhan also shared his thoughts on
the future health scenario of the world. “I believe that health is central to
economic performance and to enhancing human capabilities. However, public
health policy must be based and guided on a proper understanding of nature.
This is also the underlying principle of the Indian traditional systems of
medicine based on holistic health and wellness, which I have lived and
experienced,” he said.
Dr Harsh Vardhan has 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 also served as an Advisor to the WHO.
The Executive Board of WHO is
composed of 34 technically qualified members elected for three-year term. The
main functions of the Board are to implement the decisions and policies of the
Health Assembly, and advise and facilitate its work.