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Nepal’s WHO regional director aspirant pins hope on India to sail through

Dr Shambhu Acharya, Nepal’s nominee for the post of the World Health Organisation regional director, on Thursday sought India’s backing against his Bangladeshi rival and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s daughter Saima Wazed, saying he would support “Bharat” to promote its global health agenda beyond the region.

“I see a great opportunity right now to win, though nobody knows the outcome,” Acharya, who is Nepal’s official candidate for the Regional Director for WHO, South East Asia, told PTI in an interview.

When asked about his chances of winning, he said that when one participates in an election, he or she hopes to win.

“I am a public health leader known within the region and beyond. And I am a public health leader, that has been proven from my track record in terms of what I can bring in, what I can achieve as a leader and how I can foster partnership with the member states and with the different partners,” he said.

He hoped that he would receive support from India during the election for the coveted post.

“India is one of the 11 member countries in the region. Bharat certainly is a very important country because of its economic development and technological advancement and because it can support many countries and also Bharat being the G20 president and leading the global health agenda can contribute substantially,” he said.

“If I am elected regional director, we can also support Bharat to promote their global health agenda beyond the region,” he said.

“I sincerely hope that Bharat will see my capability, competency and my profile as well as my association with Bharat as a student and a public health professional and this makes me hopeful that I would get a vote from Bharat,” he added.

He said South Asia has an enormous opportunity to really improve health and the region is economically growing, it has young talents, technological advancement and also pioneered in producing cheap local generic medicines and vaccines.

“We can find low cost innovative solutions, which can help improve health services particularly, where we haven’t really taken low cost solutions and technology.”

He said he has worked for many years in WHO across three levels and represented WHO in UN and other agencies. “I have seen that this region has made substantial progress in health and I guess where we would need more stride would be on improving the population health connecting education with health,” he added.

“We need to improve the health system so that we can ensure each and every citizen of this region has access to basic health services if and when we fall sick regardless of whether the citizen is poor or rich,” he said.

He said he would promote traditional medicines, because many countries in this part of the world have traditional medicines and other areas like Yoga and Meditation. Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Sewa Lamsal said that Nepal has been campaigning in favour of Dr Acharya, who is a qualified and experienced candidate.

“It’s a very important position in WHO and Nepal has got a good chance by fielding our candidate,” Nepal’s former ambassador to India Dr Durgesh Man Singh said.

“We need to focus more on lobbying as there will be tough competition,” he said. Acharya has been associated with WHO for more than 25 years and has also worked closely with its Director General Tedros. He played an active role while establishing the Traditional Medicine Centre in Jamnagar, Gujarat at the initiative of WHO. PTI

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