NEW DELHI: India was elected to the World Health Organization’s decision making Executive Board on Tuesday, along with 10 other countries including Russia, the UK and South Korea, two people familiar with the matter said.
India will chair the Executive Board for 2020-21, taking the baton from Japan, one of the people cited above said.
India’s chairing of the WHO’s Executive Board comes at a time when tensions between the US and China are running high over the origin of the novel coronavirus pandemic and whether Beijing had shared all information regarding the disease with countries. It also comes at the US has demanded that the WHO institute "substantive improvements" in its working in 30 days or permanently forfeit US funding.
US president Donald Trump in a letter made public on Tuesday served the ultimatum to the WHO and slammed its shortcomings in managing the pandemic, including ignoring early reports of the emergence of the virus, and allegedly too close to China.
Addressing the World Health Aseembly in Geneva on Monday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had accepted that there had been shortcomings in its handling of the covid-19 crisis and that an independent review of its response would begin as soon as possible.
On its part, India has been of the view that the global community must first focus attention on curbing the pandemic with reforms and changes within WHO to be discussed later.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sought the reform and empowerment of international organisations such as the WHO to deal with pandemics. But this is with reference to empowering the WHO to demand information and insist on onsite visits in cases of emergency like the covid-19, say analysts.