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Dr Harsh Vardhan becomes WHO executive, know how it will help India?

Know the functioning of the Executive Board to understand importance of Dr Vardhan’s new post

Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Health Minister is set to take charge as chairman of the World Health Organization Executive Board at its 147th session. It is speculated that India will now play a more prominent role at the WHO. The Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare will succeed Dr Hiroki Nakatani of Japan as the new WHO executive of the 34-member WHO executive board.

India is a member state of the South East Asia Region at the WHO. Last year, the South East Region unanimously decided that India’s nominee would be elected in the executive board for 3 years beginning May.

Who governs WHO?

The WHO is governed by two decision-making bodies- the Executive Board and the World Health Assembly. The headquarter of WHO is in Geneva, Switzerland. WHO website suggests that the Executive Board has 34 members who are technically qualified in the field of health. All these members are elected for 3 years. The World Health Assembly is the WHO’s decision-making body that has 194 member states.

The post of Board’s chairman is held by rotation for one year each of the WHO’s six regional groups- South-East Asia Region, African Region, Eastern Mediterranean Region, Region of the Americas, Western Pacific Region and the European region.

The Board meeting is held in January where the agenda for the forthcoming Health Assembly is agreed upon. Resolutions to forward to the assembly are also adopted. A second short board meeting is held in May just after the World Health Assembly meeting for more administrative matters.

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Functions of Board

Giving effect to the decision of the policies of World Health Assembly, advising them and facilitating them for work are the main functions of the board. The Board and the Assembly create a forum for debates on issues related to health and it also provides a platform to its member states to raise concerns.

Both the WHA and board produce three kinds of documents – official records as published in WHO official publications, resolutions and decisions passed by the two bodies and documents that are presented in the session of the World Health Assembly and the Board meeting.

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