Welcoming Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare, Govt of India, as new Chair of the Stop TB Partnership Board

“Driving visionary political leadership is the need of the hour.”

Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan with Lucica Ditiu, Suvanand Sahu and Sreenivas Nair from the Stop TB Partnership, and Vikas Sheel from the Ministry of Health, India. Picture taken prior to COVID-19 pandemic.

17 March 2021, Geneva, Switzerland – The Stop TB Partnership Board has appointed Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, as the new Chair of the Stop TB Partnership Board. Dr. Harsh Vardhan’s three-year tenure will begin in 2021.

The Honorable Minister, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, will lead the Stop TB Partnership´s decision-making body, which focuses on maintaining and elevating tuberculosis (TB) on global, regional, and national agendas. The Board supports the ambitious efforts of the Stop TB Secretariat, partners, and the TB community at large, towards reaching the UN TB targets by 2022, a milestone moment in the effort to end TB by 2030. Dr. Harsh Vardhan will work alongside Dr. Joanne Carter, Executive Director, RESULTS and RESULTS Educational Fund, USA, who currently serves as Vice-Chair of the Board, until the end of her term in December 2021.

A medical doctor who branched out into public life, Dr. Harsh Vardhan has an impeccable electoral record of 25 years, having been elected five successive times to the Delhi Legislative Assembly and serving two consecutive terms as a Member of Parliament to the Lok Sabha (House of Commons). His public life has been stellar and marked by outstanding achievements in health, education, law, science, technology, and the environment.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan’s engagement in the eradication of the dreaded disease Poliomyelitis from India has found overwhelming global appreciation. Subsequently, he has been at the forefront of the battle against tobacco and drug abuse and was instrumental in the enactment of several laws in India to tackle these problems. For his long-standing commitment to humanity, Dr. Harsh Vardhan has been the proud recipient of various national and international awards of repute.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan became Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare for the second time in 2019, and has been at the forefront of India’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. He is also known worldwide for reiterating India’s commitment to end TB by 2025, stating that it is high time for the international community to implement faster and more innovative global TB control measures in the fight against the disease.

In taking up the position as Chair, Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan succeeds Dr. Luiz Henrique Mandetta, former Minister of Health of Brazil, and Mr. Aaron Motsoaledi, Minister of Home Affairs of South Africa, who remain engaged with the Stop TB Partnership as TB Champions.

“I congratulate the Stop TB Partnership for its work in leading and shaping the global political debate on TB and gaining public attention through the voices of its TB Champions,” said Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan. “The fight against TB must become a people’s movement and, in this spirit, I look forward to accelerating our efforts in a major way towards ending TB.”

Dr. Joanne Carter, Vice-Chair of the Stop TB Partnership Board, hailed the announcement, of the new Chair saying, “The biggest need of the hour is visionary political leadership and the Stop TB Partnership Board enthusiastically welcomes Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan into this important role. We are committed to working together to reach the end of TB. Even in the face of grave difficulties caused by the pandemic, we must not reduce our ambitious targets on TB eradication. Together we must do everything possible to meet the end 2022 deadline to deliver on the promises made by world leaders in 2018 at the United Nations High-Level Meeting on TB.”

Dr. Joanne Carter expressed great optimism and said, “I am sure that, with the appointment of the new Chair, world leaders will heed the clarion call of the Board to demonstrate the highest level of political commitment in their respective nations and pivot the global TB response, saving millions of lives in the years to come and contributing to ending TB."

“I am extremely hopeful and grateful to His Excellency, Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan, for stepping in as our new Chair of the Board. India is leading in the fight against TB - globally and regionally - with a clear vision and ambition towards ending TB by 2025," said Dr. Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director, Stop TB Partnership. "Under Dr. Harsh Vardhan’s able leadership, India has taken several critical steps to showcase itself as a leader for a TB-free world, with impressive and ambitious policies and plans that have been put together. With the expertise that India has gained and through its esteemed research institutions, India has a lot to offer to the world in terms of development and rapid operationalization of new tools and best practices to eliminate TB."

“At the same time, I am incredibly thankful to former Minister Dr. Luiz Henrique Mandetta, our outgoing Chair, for his leadership and future engagement. Hard work is essential if we are to recover from the devastating impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the TB response. We must remain committed to the agenda and targets that were set at the UN High-Level Meeting (UNHLM) on TB. The clock is ticking!”