‘It’s going to happen again,’ WHO COVID-19 Review Team Lead

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Helen Clark WHO COVID-19 Response Review Team Member
Helen Clark, WHO COVID-19 Response Review Team Lead

The newly appointed World Health Organisation (WHO) COVID-19 global response review team leader, Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark has warned if the world leaders remained lazy in their response to pandemics they will face future economic, social and political crises.

WHO had announced yesterday that Helen Clark and Liberia’s former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will lead a panel scrutinizing the global response.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General called both women as “strong-minded and independent leaders” while underscoring their autonomy in evaluating his agency’s and governments’ COVID-19 responses.

Originated from China in late 2019, the COVID-19 outbreak has infected a reported 12.16 million people globally with 550,242 deaths.

The United States had earlier accused China of not being open with the rest of the world in the early stages of the outbreak while Beijing fiercely rejected the charge and associated calls for an inquiry, describing the efforts as US-led propaganda against China.

After accepting the role, Clark said the job could only be described as “exceptionally challenging”. In an interview with the local broadcaster in NewZealand, Ms. Clark said this was the sixth time in 17 years that the WHO has declared a public health emergency.

“This is going to happen again. If the world is as flat-footed in response as it has been to this we are in serious ongoing economic, social, political crisis,” Ms. Clark told the broadcaster.

“But there’s also a very real job to do, which is to look at how the WHO has been able to lead. Does it have the right mechanisms? What actually happened here? And there’s a lot of politics in that,” she added.

The former NewZealand Prime Minister is expected to work from her home in Auckland for the foreseeable future while delivering the project.