The Ministry of Health and Welfare said that Korea would serve as a member of the World Health Organization's (WHO) Executive Board from May 2020.
There are 34 WHO Executive Board member countries with three-year terms, which meet at least twice a year. The main functions of the Executive Board are to give effect to the decisions and policies of the Health Assembly, to advise it, and facilitate its work generally.
An Executive Board member can also select one health professional to serve as an executive director, who will participate in the regular Executive Board meetings.
Currently, the WHO's Executive Board has five members elected from the Western Pacific region -- Japan, Australia, China, Singapore, and Tonga. As Japan's position is set to expire in 2020, however, the regional assembly has to appoint its replacement this year and receive confirmation from the WHO General Assembly next May.
At an informal meeting held during the WHO West Pacific Regional Assembly in October, regional countries decided to appoint Korea as the new member for the Executive Board. Korea had been competing for the Executive Board position with Malaysia and Mongolia.
If Korea receives confirmation from the WHO's General Assembly, the nation will begin its seventh term as a member of the Executive Board since it joined the WHO in 1949.
Korea is expected to play a central role in leading the WHO until its term expires in 2023.
"By being selected to join the Executive Board in 2020, we were able to reaffirm the international community's approval that Korea should play a pivotal role in representing the Western Pacific region in responding to global health issues and establishing a globally accepted health guideline," the ministry said.
Korea plans to collect and review WHO's budget and account settlements as well as critical business strategies and operational plans during the WHO Executive Board or General Assembly.
The ministry said the participation means that it can actively reflect the values and goals of Korea on dealing with global health issues and make policies, and strengthen cooperation with the domestic policies.
"The designation as a member of the WHO's Executive Board shows that the international community wants Korea to actively speak out on health issues that affect the Western Pacific region at WHO's Executive Board and General Assembly meetings," Health and Welfare Minister Park Neung-hoo said.
The country will do its best to fulfill its responsibilities as a WHO Executive Board member in achieving the WHO's goal of improving equity in health, reducing health risks, promoting healthy lifestyles and settings, and responding to the underlying determinants of health, Park added.
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