Administration officials told Reuters on Tuesday that President Joe Biden intends to propose Surgeon General Vivek Murthy as the US representative on the executive board of the World Health Organization.
Under Biden and former President Barack Obama, Murthy was the leading US medical professional. If he is approved by the U.S. Senate, he will continue in that position while accepting the WHO position.
“The president is convinced that Dr. Murthy would build on his commitment to an era of persistent diplomacy by representing our country on the world stage,” one source said.
According to the official, “re-joining the WHO requires an experienced and seasoned physician and public health expert” who can elaborate on the US commitment to global health. The best candidate for the job is Dr. Murthy.
As soon as he took office in January 2021, Biden said that the United States will re-engage with the WHO after his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, said in 2020 that the country would withdraw from the agency due to its handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
In a statement given to Reuters, Murthy stated, “If confirmed, I will continue to elevate US leadership on the international arena and ensure public health is at the centre of our planning and readiness for global issues.”
Murthy will continue to reside in Washington, where he shares a home with his wife and two children, but will travel to Geneva “as often as is required to carry out the duties of this post,” according to a second administration official.
The 34 members of the executive board of the WHO each have a three-year tenure. The World Health Assembly, which consists of the WHO member states, sets the agenda and implements the policies, according to the organization’s website. Since 2020, the US has not had a board member who has been confirmed by the Senate.