Former Liberian Leader Joins Panel Investigating The Global Response To COVID-19

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia’s former president, and Helen Clark, New Zealand’s former prime minister, are to head a panel to review the global response to the Covid19 pandemic. Johnson Sirleaf and Clark will head the newly formed Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response.

The announcement follows the Trump administration’s formal notification to the United Nations of its withdrawal from WHO, effective July 6, 2021 (with a possibility of reversal by a new administration or changed circumstances).

Johnson Sirleaf led Liberia during the Ebola epidemic that began in 2014, when more than 11,000 people were infected with the virus and died. New Zealand has been lauded as a success story for its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

The WHO’s body’s chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said it was time to reflect and to strengthen collaboration to contain the pandemic. “Through you, the world will understand the truth of what happened and also the solutions to build our future better as one humanity.”

Ghebreyesus went on to say, “I cannot Imagine two more strong-minded, independent leaders to help guide us through this critical learning process to help us understand what happened—an honest assessment and to help us understand also what we should do to prevent such a tragedy in the future.”

WHO has been under pressure for some time to review its handling of the pandemic. It has faced criticism, most notably from the United States, that it was slow to respond to the initial outbreak in China. The evaluation announced by WHO will look not just at the organization’s response, but at the response of individual countries as well.

According to WHO’s announcement, the panel will operate independently and they will choose other panel members as well as members of an independent secretariat to provide support. They are expected to deliver an interim report in November and a “substantive” report to the World Health Assembly (WHO’s governing body) at its 2021 meeting next May.

SOURCE: Global Information Network

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