The Acting Director-General for Health Dr. Patrick Amoth has been elected the chairperson of the Executive Board of the World Health Organization (WHO).
Dr. Amoth was elected to the position on Tuesday, June 1 during the 149th session of the WHO’s Executive Board held in Geneva, Switzerland.
He takes over from India’s Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, whose term ended on June 2 after chairing three consecutive Board sessions, since 2019.
The Executive Board consists of 34 members.
The World Health Assembly, taking into account an equitable geographical distribution, elects the members entitled to designate a person to serve on the Board.
Each of these members appoints to the Board a person technically qualified in the field of health, who may be accompanied by alternates and advisers.
Kenya was elected to the Executive Board in 2019, and was previously represented by Dr. Masasabi John, until January 2020, when Dr. Amoth was appointed as the substantive member.
Kenya’s Ambassador in Geneva Dr. Cleopa Mailu is the alternate member.
These members are elected for three years and may be re-elected.
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The Executive Board meets at least twice a year. However, its functions are coordinated by a Secretariat based at the WHO headquarters in Geneva.
The Board elects its chairperson from among its members and its functions are: to give effect to the decisions and policies of the World Health Assembly, to act as the executive organ of the World Health Assembly, to perform any other functions entrusted to it by the World Health Assembly, to advise the World Health Assembly on questions referred to it by that body and on matters assigned to the Organization by conventions, agreements and regulations.
The Board also submits advice or proposals to the World Health Assembly on its own initiative, prepares the agenda of meetings of the World Health Assembly, submits to the World Health Assembly for consideration and approval a general programme of work covering a specific period, studies all questions within its competence, takes emergency measures within the functions and financial resources of the Organization to deal with events requiring immediate action.
The Board also has powers to authorise the Director-General to take the necessary steps to combat epidemics, to participate in the organization of health relief to victims of a calamity and to undertake studies and research.
Dr. Amoth was elected for a three-year term.
Shortly after his election, Dr. Amoth expressed gratitude to the WHO member states for allowing Kenya to take up the top seat.
“On behalf of the Government of the Republic of Kenya, I wish to convey our deep appreciation and gratitude to the entire WHO membership for the faith and trust they have demonstrated in electing Kenya to serve as Chairperson of the Executive Board. I also take this opportunity to especially thank the Member States of the African Region for nominating Kenya to serve in this capacity, he said.
The chairperson said he hopes to help eradicate the Covid-19 pandemic in the three years he would be at the helm of the WHO Executive Board.
“During my term, I hope that we can purpose as Member States to spare no effort in striving to end to the ongoing pandemic and secure a healthier and sustainable future. We must endeavour to utilise all the available tools at our disposal and remain steadfast in our fidelity to the basic founding principles of our great organization towards the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health.”
Dr. Amoth is a medical doctor with a Master of Medicine (MMed) Degree in Obstetrics/Gynaecology from the University of Nairobi. He pursued his undergraduate degree in Medicine at the same university. He also holds a Diploma in Health Systems management form Galilee College in Israel.
He previously served as chief medical specialist (obstetrics/gynaecology) and Senior Deputy Director of Medical Services at Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital Nairobi.
In May last year, he was elected the Vice President of the Executive Board of the World Health Organization (WHO), representing the African region.