Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on Friday took charge as the chairman of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Executive Board, days after the 73rd World Health Assembly elected India as its member. The WHO Executive Board comprises of 34 individuals from each Member State elected by the World Health Assembly.

India WHO Executive Board Chairman
Indian Health Minister Harsh Vardhan took charge as the new chairman of the WHO Executive Board on Friday, May 22, 2020.Twitter/ANI

The Executive Board of the WHO meets at least twice a year in January and May, immediately after the World Health Assembly, an annual decision-making meeting of the WHO. The main functions of the Executive Board include giving effect to the decisions and policies of the Health Assembly, to advise it, and generally to facilitate its work.

On Tuesday, May 19, the 73rd annual World Health Assembly had elected 10 new members, including India, the United Kingdom and South Korea, to the WHO Executive Board for a period of three years. The seven other nations elected as members of the Executive Board included Botswana, Colombia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Madagascar, Oman, and Russia.

73rd annual World Health Assembly

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the 73rd annual World Health Assembly, bringing together representatives from the WHO's 194 member states, was held on May 18. The annual meet was held to chart a path for the world to combat the coronavirus, which has killed more than 3.17 lakh people and infected nearly 4.9 million across the world.

However, the meeting was dominated by the issue of tensions between the US and China over the origin of the coronavirus. The US had delivered a pre-recorded message after President Donald Trump decided not to address the Health Assembly. In the message, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar raised the issue of WHO's alleged failure to obtain crucial information about the pandemic from China, where the virus first emerged.

Nearly 100 countries, including India, have also supported an independent probe pushed by the European Union and Australia into the origin of the coronavirus. The US and several other countries have accused China of concealing information about the virus in the early days of the outbreak.