Former President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and former Prime Minister of New Zealand Helen Clark will co-chair an Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPR) to evaluate the world’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The World Health Organisation ( WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced this on Thursday, while launching the panel.

The panel is expected to present its interim report in November when the World Health Assembly (WHA) resumes, and its substantive report in May 2021.

It will be operating independently and the two will choose other panel members as well as members of an independent secretariat to provide support.

“Prime Minister Clark and President Sirleaf were selected through a process of broad consultation with Member States and world experts. I cannot imagine two more strong-minded, independent leaders to help guide us through this critical learning process,” said Dr. Tedros in his speech.

Sirleaf was the first woman to be elected head of state of an African country. The Liberian politician and economist is also a Nobel Peace Prize recipient for her efforts to further women’s rights.

Clark was an Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme from 2009 to 2017.

Lessons learnt

At the historic 73rd World Health Assembly in May, Member States adopted a landmark resolution that called on WHO to initiate an independent and comprehensive evaluation of the lessons learned from the international health response to COVID-19.

The Director-General says the Independent Oversight and Advisory Committee for the WHO Health Emergencies Programme will also continue its existing work.

“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,” said Dr. Tedros. “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.”