Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare digitally chaired the 147th session of WHO Executive Board, through Video Conference.
His closing remarks were as follows:
Excellencies, My colleague Vice-Chairs, our Director General, Regional Directors, Distinguished Delegates, Esteemed Partners, Ladies & Gentlemen,
We have come to the close of another successful Session of the Executive Board. The year 2020 has been a year to remember, where we have met and deliberated at least 7 times for the Governing Body Meetings of the Organization. These include the January Executive Board and PBAC Meetings, virtual de-minimis Sessions of the Health Assembly and Executive Board in May, Special Session of the EB and 32nd Meeting of PBAC in October, the resumed Session of the Health Assembly and now the EB.
For this wonderful last Session of the Year, I sincerely appreciate the support extended by my colleague Vice-Chairpersons and thank them for their full cooperation in successful conduct of this Resumed Session of the Executive Board despite the difficulties associated with holding a virtual meeting cutting across several time zones.
The rich and proactive interventions of the Member States have made this possible. Their suggestions and inputs will be very useful in guiding the work of the Organization as we move forward with strengthened resolve to tackle this once in a generation pandemic, affecting all aspects of our lives.
I acknowledge the role of our sister UN agencies, inter-governmental organizations, partners and non-state actors, appreciate the commitment and support extended and thank them for their keen engagement and participation.
Amid the challenges we face, it was a privilege to spend time with all of you and listen to the experiences and best practices being followed world-wide.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The deliberations and Statements made reflect the immense and deep engagement of EB Member States and other partners in coordinating, leading and supporting not only the global response against the unprecedented pandemic but also other public health challenges. This was particularly seen during your interventions on agenda items on the managerial, administrative, financial and staffing matters.
The Member States’ interventions and rich inputs affirm the resolve of the Executive Board to further strengthen the response and work toward building a healthier, secure and prosperous world.
Today’s discussions and suggestions will strengthen our collective response and will encourage global cooperation.
Here, let me also applaud the WHO staff at all three levels, Headquarters, Regional and Country Offices, for their sincerity and dedication. Your work is valued not only by us, but as seen, in the trustworthy ratings of the authentic scientific information related to the disease, by the general public across all countries.
I appreciate the Director-General of the WHO, Regional Directors and the Secretariat team for the energy and insight they have displayed in the ongoing support to Member States not only in emergency response but across all spheres.
Our sincere thanks to the Translators and the ICT team, for their hard work they put in to ensure that this virtual EB Session was seamless. With their tiring efforts, this wonderful Session has now come to a conclusion.
To resonate the Director-General’s sentiments expressed during this resumed session, solidarity and collaboration have been and will be centrally important for us to overcome this pandemic and improve the accessibility, affordability and quality of health-care services.
In the end, I thank all the Member States for their participation in the resumed session and their insightful observations and sharing their experiences. I also thank the many non-government and inter-governmental organizations that partner with us and enable us to bring in the whole-of-society approach in health.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
In India, we have just finished celebrating the Grand Diwali Festival, which is the festival of lights. Across the world, it is the festive season now. We have Christmas, Easter and New Year Celebrations lined up next month. As an eternal optimist, I hope that the festivals shall be the harbingers of good health, peace and prosperity, and the dark period of the pandemic will soon be gone.
My heartiest congratulations and greetings to all. A big shout out to citizens of the world who are braving this unforeseen crisis. I wish each one of them good life and good health.
I would also like to take this opportunity to add that if we can build a vision together and work even more swiftly, the new changed landscape will serve as a launching pad that shall literally propel WHO towards a leadership role. However, the potential of this moment will remain only as it was, unless we seize the moment.
This is the right time for all of us to initiate an intricate dialogue that shall culminate with the formulation of a new vision for WHO. For this, I wish to work closely together with all member nations in the coming months, who bring in diversity of thinking and expertise of best practices adopted in recent times.
Permit me to say that ‘We At WHO’ need to be a trailblazer.
The world around us is changing, often with lightning speed. And, always remember that we cannot stand still in a world of change.
Working with Passion and Commitment, wanting to make a difference in the world, and being satisfied with nothing less- This passion manifests itself in WHO’s commitment to providing “transformative” experiences for our member nations.
Our DNA has always been to “Serve Those Who Serve Others.” We must engender in our health workforces a “fire in the belly,” a desire to make a real difference in the post-COVID world which will struggle for some time to stand on its feet. To do all this, we need to drive some radical changes within.
We must make choices – many of them difficult.
We must take actions – many of them challenging.
Individually and collectively, we must be engaged in this effort.
But, the prize at stake; if we exercise the courage to seize the moment, is that we can together participate in a cause that is greater than ourselves.
With these words, I shall conclude my closing remarks. I look forward to meeting you all together next year at the 148th Session of the Executive Board and this time physically.
Thank you and namaskar!