AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, calls on former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and former Liberia President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, co-chairs of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPR), to ensure an impartial evaluation of the World Health Organization (WHO) response to COVID-19. It is imperative that the panel consist of a range of truly independent global public health thinkers from diverse fields who are free from influence from the WHO, its Director-General or member states.
“We have the utmost respect for Helen Clark and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. They are both incredible, accomplished women and former heads of state with remarkable careers—and their honesty is without question,” said AHF President Michael Weinstein. “Unfortunately, the process of convening the IPPR, and the later process of asking governments to nominate potential candidates to be part of this panel, generates doubts surrounding its ability to operate independently and without exterior influences.”
During and after the 2014-2016 West Africa Ebola crisis, several independent panels were formed to evaluate the global response to that disaster; however, none were chaired by former heads of state and all panels concluded with recommendations of reforms of WHO.
“Most of those recommendations were not fully implemented – some were partially implemented and others were completely ignored by WHO,” said Dr. Jorge Saavedra, Executive Director of the AHF Global Public Health Institute at the University of Miami and member of a panel convened by the Harvard-London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine which published its recommendations in The Lancet and The British Medical Journal. “There will be a need for future independent panels to evaluate the role of WHO in the COVID-19 response, but the IPPR can help ensure transparency and accountability by selecting truly impartial members for its panel.”
“During this pandemic, the world must learn from another forgotten pandemic—the AIDS crisis,” added Weinstein. “The HIV/AIDS response has involved many more relevant actors from all fields, including civil society, patients, healthcare personnel and activists, just to name a few. It’s critical that all applicable independent voices are included in this investigation and not just specialists recommended by member states of WHO.”
For more information, please contact Ged Kenslea at firstname.lastname@example.org or (323) 791-5526
About AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF)
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over 1.4 million people in 45 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare and Instagram: @aidshealthcare.
Ged Kenslea, Senior Director, Communications, AHF
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