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Union health minister Harsh Vardhan to head WHO executive board

NEW DELHI: Union health minister

Harsh Vardhan

has been elected as the chairman of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Executive Board. He will take over the charge on May 22, succeeding Dr

Hiroki Nakatani

of Japan, currently the Chairman of the 34-member WHO Executive Board.

The WHO is a specialized agency of

the United Nations

responsible for international public health. It’s executive board is composed of 34 individuals technically qualified in the field of health, each one designated by a Member State elected to do so by the

World Health Assembly

. Member States are elected for three-year terms.

The Board meets at least twice a year; the main meeting is normally in January, with a second shorter meeting in May, immediately after the Health Assembly. The main functions of the Executive Board are to give effect to the decisions and policies of

the Health Assembly

, to advise it and generally to facilitate its work, according to WHO.

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

Last year, the WHO’s South-East Asia group had unanimously decided that India would be elected to the executive board for a three-year-term beginning May. Therefore, Vardhan’s taking over the post seems to be a formality.

The post of WHO’s executive board chairman is held by rotation for one year among regional groups and it was decided last year that India’s nominee would be assume the post.

It is not a full time assignment and the minister will just be required to chair the Board’s meetings, officials said.

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