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Health Minister chairs WHO Board meeting; calls for global response to other diseases as well

By TIOL News Service

NEW DELHI, AUG 01, 2020: DR Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare presided over a meeting of the Bureau of the Executive Board as Chairman of the Executive Board of the World Health Organization (WHO), virtually. The Bureau also includes the Vice Chairs of the Executive Board and the Director General of WHO. Observer participants and senior officials of WHO Headquarters were also present.

The agenda of the meet included finalization of dates of 32 nd session of Program, Budget and Administration Committee (PBAC), and resumed sessions of 73rd World Health Assembly (WHA 73) and 147 th Executive Board 147 (EB 147).

At the outset, Dr Harsh Vardhan welcomed the participants to the first meeting of the Bureau of the Executive Board and wished them well during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. He expressed his deepest condolences and concern at the loss of lives due to COVID-19 and offered sincere gratitude for the efforts of those on the frontline.

Recollecting the global crisis COVID 19 has unleashed, he said, "It is about four months ago that the WHO declared the COVID-19 as pandemic. About 17 million people have been infected by COVID-19 and more than 662 thousand precious lives have been lost world wide due to this pandemic. The magnitude of the damages caused to the world economy is also immense." He further stated that: "The world has now realised the importance of health and the need for greater cooperation amongst countries to tackle the risks and dangers being posed by innumerable communicable and non-communicable diseases. In the era of globalisation, when the world is a large home to all humanity, the risk and challenge to spread of a disease is even bigger since it does not distinguish between boundaries of countries."

In this regard, Dr Harsh Vardhan urged WHO members "to forge multi-sectoral collaboration to mobilize and galvanize global response, support and cooperation to fight communicable and non-communicable diseases more effectively." There is a need to explore innovative ways to address new threats and challenges in the post pandemic phase, he added.

He further stressed on the mutual "need to come together to be more responsive in terms of managing the new challenges being faced so as to ensure a timely, adequate & coordinated global response ."

Dr. Harsh Vardhan subsequently gave the floor to Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director General of WHO for his comments and opened the session for the participants.