India to get lead role at WHO next month amid global Covid-19 crisis

India is on the side of transparency and accountability in the Covid-19 outbreak and reforms in the WHO, a government official said

New Delhi: India will move into a leadership role at the World Health Organisation (WHO) headquarters after the annual meeting of the global health body next month, people familiar with the development told Hindustan Times.

The appointment of India’s nominee as chairperson of the WHO’s executive board will come at a time the world and the United Nations agency is struggling to stop the highly contagious Sars-Cov-2 pathogen from spreading.

The Covid-19 pandemic has already killed more than 180,000 people worldwide and infected 2.6 million, forcing countries to go into lockdown mode that could cost the world upwards of $ 1 trillion this year.

India will assume the lead position on 22 May at the executive board’s first meeting after the truncated World Health Assembly conference. India replaces Japan which completes its one-year-term at the crucial job in May, diplomats in Delhi and Geneva confirmed to HT.

That the chairperson’s position will come to India was decided last year when the WHO’s South-East Asia group unanimously proposed New Delhi to the executive board for a three-year-term.

The group also nominated India for the chairperson’s post held by rotation for one year among regional groups. That decision was made long before the world woke up to the Sars-CoV-2 pathogen that originated in China’s Wuhan and spread rapidly across the world.

As head of the 34-member Executive Board, India’s nominee would have to work closely with Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. The board, one diplomat familiar with the working of the WHO said, after all is mandated to implement the decisions and policies laid down by the World Health Assembly.

For all practical purposes, this implies that the Director General of the WHO has to get the chairperson on board for all important decisions, the diplomat said.

At the WHO, a government official said, India is on the side of transparency and accountability in the Covid-19 outbreak and reforms in the WHO.

By virtue of being on the executive board for three years, India will also have a say in the shortlisting of the next WHO director general when Tedros Adhanom’s five-year-tenure ends in May 2021.

Image courtesy of thesatimes |

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