Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan is set to take charge as the Chairman of the WHO Executive Board on May 22. The minister would succeed Dr Hiroki Nakatani of Japan who is currently serving as the Chairman of the board.
One hundred and ninety-four nations signed the proposal to appoint India's nominee as the Chairman. The decision to elect India was unanimously taken last year and Harsh Vardhan's appointment appears to be a formality. He would serve as the Chairman beginning May.
The position of the Chairman is held by rotation for a year among regional groups. India would occupy that role for the first year that would start on May 22. As a Chairman of the WHO Executive Board, Harsh Vardhan would be required to chair meetings and it is not a full-time job.
Thirty-four qualified individuals from the field of health are designated by a member state for the Executive Board. Member states are elected for three year terms.
The Board meets at least twice a year and the main meeting is normally held in January, with a second shorter meeting organised in May, immediately after the World Health Assembly.
The primary responsibility of the Executive Board is to draw policies as well as decisions for the World Health Assembly and to advise it and facilitate its work.
The minister addressed the 73rd World Health Assembly via video conferencing on Monday and said that India would take all the necessary steps to fight coronavirus. He also said that the country has dealt with the crisis well and is working to do better work in the months to come.
India is set to take over the chairmanship of the Executive Board amid growing calls, including by US President Donald Trump, to investigate how the coronavirus originated in China's Wuhan city and subsequent action by Beijing.
(With PTI inputs)