Pakistan elected as chair of WHO executive board

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In a major development, Pakistan has been elected as chair of the World Health Organization’s executive board.

The elite group considered the highest global policy forum on health comprising of 34 members countries elected Pakistan as its chair during its 141st session held on June 1 in Geneva, in which Pakistan’s Director General Health Dr Assad Hafeez formally assumed the office of chairman of the board.

The election was a two-tier process. The first phase was held at the regional level while the final phase at the global forum. Pakistan was first elected by the group of 22 countries comprising the Eastern Mediterranean Region and later at the global forum by the executive board containing 34 countries.

The board is composed of 34 individuals technically qualified in the field of health, each one designated by a Member State elected to do so by the World Health Assembly. States are elected for three-year membership terms.

Commenting on the development, National Health Services Minister Saira Afzal said it was an honour for Pakistan as it’s a token of world’s recognition of the important role the country had played in the global health arena.

She said Pakistan had been chosen earlier as the host of the prestigious regional conference of health ministers being held in October that will bring together Health Ministers from 22 countries in South Asia, Middle East, West Asia and North Africa.

The executive board of the WHO meets at least twice a year; the annual board meeting is held in January when the member countries agree upon the agenda for the World Health Assembly and the resolutions to be considered by the Health Assembly with a second shorter meeting in May, immediately after the Health Assembly.

The main functions of the executive board are to advise and facilitate the World Health Assembly and to give effect to the decisions and policies of the Health Assembly comprising 194 member countries.