Dr. Raj Panjabi, Last Mile Health co-founder and a physician and medical professor at Harvard Medical School, is honored to be named Technical Advisor to former President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in her role as Co-Chair of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response.
President Sirleaf and the former Prime Minister of New Zealand, the Rt Hon Helen Clark, were appointed as Co-Chairs of the Independent Panel by the WHO Director-General to lead an impartial, independent, and comprehensive evaluation of the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic coordinated by the World Health Organization.
The Independent Panel will make recommendations on how to improve the capacity for global pandemic preparedness and response and is expected to submit its report to the 74th World Health Assembly in May 2021.
The Independent Panel convened its first meeting on September 17, and identified three main priorities for inquiry as noted in the meeting’s report:
- An analysis and vision for a strengthened international system ideally equipped for pandemic preparedness and response
- A review of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic
- Lessons to be learnt in why SARS-CoV-2 spread globally and had its devastating impact, including an understanding of characteristics of the virus and of governmental and institutional responses at all levels.
As President Sirleaf said in her opening remarks, “I hope that our work leads to bold, credible, robust and implementable solutions that ensure our world is better prepared for the next pandemic.”
The Independent Panel is composed of panelists with “expertise in outbreak response, managing national health systems, leadership in youth and community engagement, socio-economic analytical capabilities, knowledge about the international system including WHO and experience from similar international processes.”
In addition to the Co-Chairs, the panelists include:
- Mauricio Cárdenas (an economist and former Finance Minister of Colombia)
- Aya Chebbi (from Tunisia, African Union Special Envoy on Youth, diplomat, pan-African activist and feminist)
- Mark Dybul (from the USA, Professor at Georgetown University and former head of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria and of PEPFAR)
- Michel Kazatchkine, Professor and global health diplomat from France; and a former head of the Global Fund)
- Joanne Liu (a Canadian physician, who formerly led Médecins Sans Frontières, including during the Ebola response)
- Precious Matsoso (former Director-General of Health from South Africa, and former Chair of the Independent Oversight and Advisory Committee for the WHO Emergencies Programme)
- David Miliband (CEO of the International Rescue Committee, and former Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom)
- Thoraya Obaid (former Executive Director of UNFPA, from Saudi Arabia)
- Preeti Sudan (Former Secretary of Health of India, and former Vice Chair of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health)
- Ernesto Zedillo (Economist, Director of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, Yale University, Former President of Mexico)
- Zhong Nanshan (Professor of Pulmonology from China, and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Thoracic Disease)
Learn more here.