A major development has taken place at the World Health Organisation which is going to leave a positive impression upon the changing world order. India’s Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan is all set to take charge of the WHO Executive Board from May 22.
Dr Harsh Vardhan’s presence at the WHO is bound to restore the credibility of the organisation, which has become diabolically pro-China amidst the ongoing Pandemic with the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom himself succumbing to Beijing’s influence.
Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan will take over from the sitting Chairman of the Executive Board, Dr Hiroki Nakatani of Japan. The move to appoint Dr. Harsh Vardhan is now a mere formality as WHO’s South-east group had unanimously decided last year that India would be elected to the Executive Board of the WHO for a three-year term.
The Executive Board Chairman post is held by rotation for one year, and Dr. Harsh Vardhan would serve as India’s appointee for the first year starting Friday.
The move is critical because the WHO Executive Board is a key body of the international institution that implements the decisions and policies of the World Health Assembly, the main decision-making body of the WHO.
What this means is that India is going to have a much greater say in this organisation that has been tilting towards China awkwardly. India’s presence at the top level in the organisation will act as an effective check on China’s growing influence.
WHO has been a terrible failure in the face of the Coronavirus Pandemic, and the rising numbers manifest its criminal incompetence. The incumbent Director-General Tedros Adhanom, the first WHO chief not be a medical doctor in the 72 years of the institution’s history, has been more concerned about serving China’s interests than tackling the Pandemic.
WHO misled the world on every front- delayed warning about human-to-human transmission, understated fatality rate, advising people against using masks and recommendations against imposing travel restrictions on China, almost everything that the WHO did only aggravated the COVID-19 crisis.
India, under the leadership of Dr. Harsh Vardhan, however, did not toe WHO’s line and issued an a advisory to suspend all non-essential travels to China on January 25, a few days before WHO recommended against travel bans on China and few days after WHO’s advice, the Indian government advised citizens to not travel to China at all, a step up from their earlier advice.
India’s strategy to deal with Coronavirus has been very different from that advised by WHO. The criminally incompetent organization advised “test test test” but the head of ICMR said “There will be no indiscriminate testing. Isolation, Isolation, isolation.” People across all sections of the society also used masks in India against WHO’s initial advice. While the West faltered because it paid heed to WHO’s advice, India, led by Dr. Harsh Vardhan contained the COVID-19 Pandemic far more successfully because it ignored the WHO.
The WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is not a medical expert, whereas Dr. Harsh Vardhan is both a doctor and an adroit administrator. His influence is bound to make up for the incompetence of Tedros Adhanom and restore the faith of the international community in the WHO.
Most importantly, India taking charge of the key body will ensure that the organisation sheds the pro-China approach to some extent. As of now, the WHO is almost acting as China’s spokesperson, especially on the issue of Taiwan’s participation at the World Health Assembly. In fact, Dr Tedros has yet again acted as China’s man, blocking Taiwan’s participation which has greatly irked Taiwan and the international community.
WHO officials have virtually gone by the “One China Principle” instead of acting fairly, and the WHO Director-General too has grown vindictive against the little island State. But with India exercising some degree of control, the WHO might well have to start acting as an impartial body.
Eventually if Dr. Harsh Vardhan is able to put things in order at the troubled organisation, he might as well emerge as a strong contender to replace the sitting Director-General. Therefore, his appointment as the WHO Executive Board Chairman is a welcome development that might finally rid the institution of its criminal incompetence and compromised behaviour.