To recap on what was just announced by the World Health Organization chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the UN health body is appointing a committee to evaluate the global response to the coronavirus pandemic and make recommendations for an enhanced system of global health governance.
The WHO is yet to publish any further details on what this evaluation committee, to be led by Helen Clark, the former prime minister of New Zealand, and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the former president of Liberia, is supposed to be about.
From what I can gather from the contents of Tedros’s speech, its aim is to evaluate “national surveillance and response systems, how we shared information with our communities, and whether we earned their trust, how we governed, and whether our global health architecture is fit for purpose.”
It comes off the back of a resolution passed in during the World Health Assembly in May, where the WHO’s 194 member states (which no longer include the US, of course) agreed to “recognise the role of the the leadership role of WHO and the role of the UN system in coordinating the comprehensive global response” to coronavirus and other global pandemics.
“It called on member states to implement a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach to ensure a more coherent, fairer and effective global response [and] it called for the fair distribution of vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics,” Tedros said.
He said the panel’s terms of reference were yet to be developed, and the remaining members of the panel would be selected by the two co-chairs from candidates proposed by member states.
It is due to present an interim report in November and a full report in May. Tedros’s comments suggest its goal is to design a model for global health governance that will coordinate responses to future outbreaks and other challenges such as antimicrobial resistance, inequality and the climate crisis.
He added: “This cannot be another blue-ribbon panel that issues a report that goes up on the bookshelf. We must come together in a global conversation, to take these hard-won lessons and turn them into action.
“My friends, make no mistake. The greatest threat we face now is not the virus itself. Rather, it is the lack of leadership and solidarity at the global and national levels. We cannot defeat this pandemic as a divided world.”