The World Health Organization Thursday named former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to lead an independent panel to evaluate the agency’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking to a briefing of member states from WHO headquarters in Geneva, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus introduced the two leaders, saying it is a time for self-reflection.
“The magnitude of this pandemic, which has touched virtually everyone in the world, clearly deserves a commensurate evaluation, an honest evaluation,” Tedros said.
The formation of the panel comes two days after the United States formally withdrew from the organization after U.S. President Donald Trump said the organization failed to confront China over its initial response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The White House has said it will not support the organization without major reforms.
Nations such as Japan, while not supporting the U.S. departure, did call for reforms at the organization.
Tedros said he agrees that WHO needs a thorough, honest evaluation.
“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,” he said.
Tedros proposed that all member states propose suggestions for members of the evaluation panel and that the panel operates independently.
He suggested the panel present an independent report in November before the World Health Assembly, and its final report before the assembly next May.