Home Politics Election of Dr. Harsh Vardhan as WHO Executive Chairman; a success or...

Election of Dr. Harsh Vardhan as WHO Executive Chairman; a success or due?

Should the BJP celebrate Dr.Harsh Vardhan’s election as its party’s triumph?

To answer this question one must understand how the World Health Organization broadly operates.

The WHO has divided itself in 6 regions :

  • Africa
  • Americas
  • South-East Asia
  • Europe
  • Eastern Mediterrean 
  • Western Pacific 

Conjointly it has 194 Member States(countries) in the above 6 regions.

The South-East Asia is divided into 2 regions:

SEAR B:

  • Indonesia
  • Sri Lanka
  • Thailand
  • Timor-Leste

SEAR D:

  • Bangladesh
  • Bhutan
  • Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
  • India
  • Maldives
  • Myanmar
  • Nepal

By this WHO categorization it is clear that India falls in the Sear D region of South-East Asia.

The World Health Organization is governed by two decision-making bodies: 

  1. The World Health Assembly (194 countries)
  2. The Executive Board (32 countries from the 194 countries)

The selection of these members is in rotation and the number of seats allocated for the region. For example, Sout- East Asia has 3 seats allocated to this region. The WHO committee of this region decides unanimously which countries will fill up the gap once the tenure of one member state terminates. Once the member state is a part of the Executive board, it  is eligible to elect a Chairman.  

Composition of the executive board:

  • 1 Chairman
  • 4 Vice-Chairmen
  • 1 Rapporteur
  • 28 representatives

Currently, there are 34 member states in the Executive board panel from the 6 regions mentioned above. The board consists of technically qualified individuals in the field of health. Each designated Member State that has been elected, serves a tenure of 3 years.

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. 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 Board are to give effect to the decisions and policies of the Health Assembly, to advise it and generally to facilitate its work.

Every year, a new Chairman is elected amongst the Member States.

Last year in 2019, WHO’s South East Asia group had unanimously decided that India would be elected a member state of the executive board for a three-year term. It was also decided at this meeting that New Delhi’s nominee would be the Executive Board chairman for the first year.

India then decided to make its Health Minister Dr.Harsh Vardhan its representative for 3 years and the chairman of  the Executive Board at the World Health Organization for 1 year, PTI reported on Tuesday.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan will succeed Dr. Hiroki Nakatani of Japan. The chairman’s post is held by rotation for one year among regional groups. The minister will only be required to chair the 34-member Executive Board’s meetings. “It is not a full-time assignment… But Dr. Vardhan will be required to chair the executive board’s bi-annual meetings,” a senior government official told the Hindustan Times

Social Media posts highlight that this is some sort of reward for India’s influence when it is hardly so. It was simply India’s turn to be a member and to have a chairman of the Executive Board. The matter was essentially procedural.

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