Dr Harsh Vardhan chairs 5th Special Session of the WHO Executive Board

Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare presided over the fifth special session of Bureau of the Executive Board as Chairman of the Executive Board of the World Health Organization (WHO), virtually. Observer participants and senior officials of WHO Headquarters were also present.

The agenda of the meet included focus on the measures necessary to ensure the full and effective implementation of the terms of resolution WHA 73.1 on COVID-19 response.

The resolution WHA 73.1 titled “COVID-19 response” was co-sponsored by more than 130 countries and calls for the intensification of efforts to control the pandemic and for equitable access to and fair distribution of all essential health technologies and products to combat the virus.

At the outset, Dr Harsh Vardhan welcomed the participants,and expressed his deepest condolences for those who have sacrificed their lives to the pandemic and those who are continuing to fight relentlessly and selflessly.

Recollecting the global crisis the pandemic has unleashed, he said: “Today there are compelling circumstances that have forced us all to meet virtually.Governments, industry and philanthropy must pool resources to pay for the risk, the research, manufacturing and distribution, but with the condition that the rewards should be available to everyone, regardless of where they have been developed.

He further added, “Committing to disaster risk reduction and management would require early and transparent identification and communication of risks, maintaining the momentum in investing in people and resilient health systems, strengthened multi-sector collaboration, stress on the swifter generation of evidence, accelerated research & development efforts and rational evidence-based implementation of plans.”

In this regard, Dr Harsh Vardhan urged WHO members to work with the global community of partners for the efficient, effective and responsive discharge of public health obligations.“All these challenges, such as the present pandemic, demand a shared response because these arethe  shared threats requiring shared responsibility to act. The shared responsibility is also the core philosophy of our alliance of member nations that comprise WHO.”

Dr Vardhan stressed on the“need to initiate, at the earliest appropriate moment, and in consultation with the Member States, a stepwise process of an impartial, independent, and comprehensive evaluation, including using existing mechanisms, as appropriate, to review experience gained and lessons learned from the WHO-coordinated international health response to COVID-19.”

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