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73rd session of the WHA held virtually; Draft resolution on COVID-19 investigation adopted; Harsh Vardhan named as chairman of WHO Executive Board

73rd session of the World Health AssemblyThe two day long 73rd session of the World Health Assembly (WHA) of World Health Organization (WHO) was held virtually for the first time, amid COVID-19, from 18 – 19 May 2020. The objective of the meet was to reach a consensus of EU backed draft stating an investigation on how the “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)” has originated.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan attended the virtual WHA73

From India, WHA73 was attended by Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare. He has explained the steps taken by India to fight COVID-19 by fostering bilateral and regional partnerships including supply of essential medicines to 123 nations as an expression of solidarity.

EU initiated draft resolution on COVID-19 response adopted at WHA73; Supported by India

A draft resolution pushed by the 27-nation European Union and Australia, and supported by more than 120 countries including India called for a step-wise process of impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation of the WHO response to the pandemic as well as the identification of the zoonotic source of the coronavirus. Notably, the draft resolution does not mention China or its Wuhan city but indirectly eyeing on the latter.

  • Besides India, the countries which supported the draft resolution included Australia, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bhutan, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Iceland, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Maldives, Mexico, Montenegro, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Moldova, Russia, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine and the UK and Northern Ireland. The African Group, comprising around 50 countries, is also supporting the resolution.

Dr Harsh Vardhan named as chairman of WHO Executive Board

On May 22, 2020, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan is set to take charge as the chairman of the World Health Organization (WHO) Executive Board at its 147th session, as the proposal regarding his appointment was signed at WHA73.

  • He is the Indian incumbent minister at the Ministry of Science & Technology, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Ministry of Earth Sciences.
  • He will succeed Dr Hiroki Nakatani of Japan.

About WHO Executive Board

It is composed of 34 technically qualified members elected for three-year terms. The main functions of the Board are to implement the decisions and policies of the Health Assembly and facilitate its work.

  • The chairman’s post is held by rotation for one year among regional groups.
  • It is not a full time assignment and the minister will just be required to chair the Executive Board’s meetings.
  • The Board meets at least twice a year in January, and May.

China announces USD 2 billion in coronavirus help at WHO assembly

China will provide USD 2 billion over two years to fight the coronavirus pandemic, particularly in developing countries. Chinese President Xi Jinping also assured that when a vaccine for the disease is available, it will be available globally.

  • In April, 2020, China has announced a contribution of $30 million to the WHO following a $20 million donation in March, 2020.

Keva Bain of Bahamas elected as new president of WHA

Keva Bain from the Bahamas, country’s permanent representative to the United Nations (UN), has been elected to serve as president of the 73rd World Health Assembly.

About WHA:

The World Health Assembly is the decision-making body of WHO. It is attended by delegations from all WHO Member States and focuses on a specific health agenda prepared by the Executive Board.

  • The main functions of the World Health Assembly are to determine the policies of the Organization, appoint the Director-General, supervise financial policies, and review and approve the proposed programme budget.
  • The Health Assembly is held annually in Geneva, Switzerland.

About WHO:
Director-General– Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (Ethiopia)
Chief Scientist– Dr Soumya Swaminathan
Headquarter– Geneva, Switzerland





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