Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare in his capacity as Chairperson, Executive Board, World Health Organization (WHO) addressed the 149th Session of the WHO Executive Board Meeting from Nirman Bhawan today through Video Conference. Dr. Harsh Vardhan successfully completes his tenure as Chairperson of Executive Board of WHO on Wednesday.
Dr. Harsh Vardhan reminded the audience of the brave, distinguished and honourable men and women who as COVID Warriors across the world have given away their lives so that humanity may survive.These are moments of mixed emotions for me. On the one hand, I feel happy and privileged to have served this prestigious organisation. On the other hand, my heart feels heavy as I exit amidst a lot of work that remains to be done and as the planet continues to reel under the pandemic crisis and economic turbulence.
In May 2020, I was entrusted with the responsibility to be the Chair of the Executive Board. It was indeed an honour for me to lead the apex governing body of the World Health Organization during the 147th and 148th sessions of the Executive Board as well as its Special Session on the COVID-19 response.
It was a privilege to represent the Board at the recently held 74th World Health Assembly on 31st May 2021, and which I’m certain will help strengthen the COVID-19 response and accelerate progress towards the triple billion targets and Sustainable Development Goals.I commend the World Health Organization for its steadfast support to all Member States throughout the pandemic, fully committed to the value of equity and the simple truth that no one is safe until all are safe.
The Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator is the fastest, most coordinated, and successful global collaboration in history to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines. The COVAX Facility has provided a much-needed mechanism to secure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines – a true embodiment of our principle to not leave anyone behind.
I’m inspired that the World Health Assembly vigorously supported equitable global access to COVID-19 medicines and vaccines. Global solidarity and cooperation are fundamental to all areas of the pandemic response and must continue to be strengthened.The time to act is now. This is a time when we all understand that there are going to be many urgent health challenges in the next two decades. All these challenges demand a shared response, because these are shared threats requiring shared responsibility to act. And, of course, this is also the core philosophy of WHO. I have been saying this time and again that the biggest need of the hour is a greater degree of Shared idealism of nations.In such a dire global crisis, both risk management and mitigation require further strengthening of global partnerships to rekindle interest and investment in global public health.