The former President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, is to co-chair with the ex-Prime Minister of New Zealand, Helen Clark, an independent panel to evaluate the world’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Prime Minister Clark and President Sirleaf were selected through a process of broad consultation with member states and world experts,” said the Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, on Thursday.
“I cannot imagine two more strong-minded, independent leaders to help guide us through this critical learning process.”
The decision to establish the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPR) was taken at the 73rd World Health Assembly (WHA) in May.
Dr Tedros said: “This is a time for self-reflection, to look at the world we live in and to find ways to strengthen our collaboration as we work together to save lives and bring this pandemic under control.
“The magnitude of this pandemic, which has touched virtually everyone in the world, clearly deserves a commensurate evaluation.”
He went on: “This is not a standard report that ticks a box and is then put on a shelf to gather dust.
“This is something we take seriously.
“We learn honestly, and we follow through too, honest to the assessment, and honest to the follow through and implementation.”
The panel is expected to present its findings at the WHA in May next year.
Mrs Johnson Sirleaf was one of three women jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011, while Ms Clark headed the UN Development Programme from 2009 to 2017.
In the meantime, Dr Tedros said the global fight to counter COVID-19 must continue.
“Even as we fight this pandemic, we must be readying ourselves for future global outbreaks and the many other challenges of our time such as antimicrobial resistance, inequality and the climate crisis,” he said.
“COVID-19 has taken so much from us.
“But it is also giving us an opportunity to break with the past and build back better.”