Shared response a must to fight global health challenges: Vardhan

Shared response a must to fight global health challenges: Vardhan

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 challenges.

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 reforms.

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.

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