Agencies / New Delhi
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan took charge as the chairman of the WHO Executive Board on Friday and asserted a worldwide crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need for strengthening global partnerships to re-energise investment in global public health.
Vardhan's elevation to the chairmanship of the 34-member World Health Organisation (WHO) Executive Board comes amid growing calls, including by US President Donald Trump, to investigate how coronavirus originated in China's Wuhan city and subsequent action by Beijing.
Tensions are running high within the UN health body after Trump warned WHO he would reconsider America's membership and "permanently freeze" the body's funding if it does not demonstrate its "independence" from China in the next 30 days.
Vardhan, who succeeded Dr Hiroki Nakatani from Japan, paid tribute to the lakhs of people who have lost their lives due to the global COVID-19 pandemic and also requested all dignitaries present on the occasion to give a standing ovation to all the frontline health workers and other "COVID warriors by saluting their dignity, determination and dedication".
Vardhan was elected as the Chair of the Executive Board of World Health Organization for 2020-21 during the 147th session of the board in a meeting held virtually.