Bhutan's Health Minister, Dechen Wangmo, elected as President for the 74th World Health Assembly


WHO's the decision-making body, World Health Assembly (WHA) met for its 74th session on May 24 including delegations from all UN health agency’s member states.

The World Health Assembly (WHA) is the highest decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO) where delegates from 194 countries attend the assembly every year in Geneva, Switzerland to discuss the organisation's priorities and policies.

WHA is focused on the specific health agenda prepared by the Executive Board. According to WHO, the main functions of the WHA are to “determine the policies of the Organization, appoint the Director-General, supervise financial policies, and review and approve the proposed programme budget.”

This year, the assembly will be held virtually from 24 May to 1 June due to the COVID-19 pandemic situation. You will be able follow proceedings of the WHA74 sessions online.

Bhutan's health minister, Dechen Wangmo was nominated as the President of the 74th WHA in 2020 by member states of the WHO's South-East Asia Region. On 24 May, the assembly officially elected Dechen Wangmo as the President and she will hold office for a year. 

For the first time, Bhutan is taking on the responsibility of the president-ship, a position since Bhutan became a member of WHO in 1982.

While this year’s World Health Assembly (WHA) was held virtually, health minister Dechen Wangmo was invited to chair the assembly in person as president. A four-member delegation led by the minister left the country last week.

The theme for this year’s session is “Ending this pandemic, preventing the next: building together a healthier, safer and fairer world.” Delivering her presidential address at the session yesterday, health minister Dechen Wangmo emphasised on multi-lateral cooperation and global vaccine solidarity in the fight against the COVID-19.

The pandemic can only be controlled when everyone is vaccinated. It means that equitable access to vaccines and a comprehensive global vaccine drive is the only way forward to contain this pandemic. It is time now for the global community to come together as one to ensure that every country in the world gets sufficient doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to vaccinate every eligible citizen. We must remember that only solidarity and science, and not solitude will get us out of this pandemic,” said the president.

The 74th World Health Assembly has also elected 5 vice president of the WHO’s decision-making body including Benin, Estonia, Guatemala, Mongolia, Qatar.

During the health minister's stay in Geneva, aside from chairing the WHA, she also will hold bilateral meetings with her Swiss counterpart, Mr. Alain Berset, Minister of the Federal Office for Public Health, and the President Peter Maurer of the International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and officials from GAVI, Global Fund and other international organizations.

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