Independent COVID-19 Panel Stumbles out of the Gate, says AHF

AHF expresses its profound disappointment over the members selected to serve on the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPR), the body charged with evaluating the world’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the lack of transparency surrounding the selection process.

WASHINGTON--()--AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, is profoundly disappointed over the members selected to serve on the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPR), the body mandated by the World Health Assembly to evaluate the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

AHF issued a statement in July urging the co-chairs of the IPPR, former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and former Liberia President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, to conduct a fully impartial evaluation of WHO’s COVID-19 response. Additionally – and equally important – we asked the co-chairs to select a range of independent and diverse global public health experts who are free from influence from the WHO, its Director-General or member states. Unfortunately, that was not achieved.

“From what we heard today at the press conference announcing the panelists, IPPR’s proposed scope of investigation is being positioned as an evaluation of the global response to COVID-19, and not of WHO’s central role in repeatedly stumbling at the beginning of the pandemic by issuing conflicting statements, praising China’s response, and failing to quickly declare the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern,” said AHF Chief of Global Advocacy and Policy Terri Ford. “It remains to be seen whether the panel will critically examine the WHO, or skirt around the topic, instead focusing on more general failings of the global pandemic preparedness system that have already been repeatedly explored, most recently following the Ebola outbreaks in 2014 and 2018. Regrettably, President Sirleaf and Prime Minister Clark have chosen to populate the panel with a number of Geneva insiders with prior ties to the UN system, which calls into question the independence and impartiality of the panel.”

The panel selection follows a long line of disappointing actions surrounding WHO accountability in its responses to infectious disease outbreaks. “This is just one more reminder why the world is in desperate need of a new global public health convention—one that will promote full transparency in dealing with health crises and help inspire confidence in our global institutions—in addition to bolstering the authority these global bodies need to adequately protect the international community from preventable diseases,” added Ford.

AHF urges the IPPR to thoroughly evaluate the role of the WHO, along with individual nations, in their respective responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. To adequately prevent or respond to future pandemics, we must know where key missteps occurred and what practices were most effective in tamping down the novel coronavirus.

For more information, please contact Ged Kenslea at gedk@aidshealth.org or (323) 791-5526.

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.

Contacts

U.S. MEDIA CONTACTS:
Ged Kenslea, Senior Director, Communications, AHF
+1 323 308 1833 work +1.323.791.5526 mobile
gedk@aidshealth.org

Denys Nazarov, Director of Global Policy &
Communications, AHF
+1.202.503.4743
dn@aidshealth.org

Contacts

U.S. MEDIA CONTACTS:
Ged Kenslea, Senior Director, Communications, AHF
+1 323 308 1833 work +1.323.791.5526 mobile
gedk@aidshealth.org

Denys Nazarov, Director of Global Policy &
Communications, AHF
+1.202.503.4743
dn@aidshealth.org