Co-Chairs’ remarks to the World Heath Assembly, May 26 2021.

Following discussion on “Item 17” in Committee A, “Public Health Emergencies: Preparedness and Response,” which included discussion on the Independent Panel’s report, Co-Chair H.E. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf delivered the following remarks on behalf of the Co-Chairs.

Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf 

Thank you Chair.

Member States and distinguished guests, Prime Minister Clark and I would like to thank you all for your interventions and appreciation of the Panel’s work.

What the Panel has offered is a concrete agenda for action and reforms, both for you here at the World Health Assembly and beyond.

We have heard many of you say that business as usual is not an option if we are to prevent another pandemic and that confirms our view that transformative change is needed urgently. 

Moving ahead, what is needed now is action on the recommendations for reforms. Member States, you have now the opportunity to make important decisions. 

We are in the middle of a preventable global crisis and we must all use this moment to take the necessary political decisions.

We must make the international health and emergency system more coherent in order to secure a much more effective pandemic response across all health, social and economic domains in the future. Making this the last pandemic. We need leadership of heads of state and government and bringing in the strengths of civil society and the private sector.

We are glad that Member States have recognised the potential for a pandemic treaty and a special session of the World Health Assembly in November. That is 6 months from now. We urge you to use those 6 months also to act on decisions the that the Panel has laid out in regard to reforms for a stronger and more independent WHO. The special session of the Assembly could also be an opportunity to make progress not only on the treaty.

Many of you have noted that we are also recommending a special session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The purpose of this is to complement the important work taking place here at the Assembly, to secure the highest-level political agreement for a roadmap for a strengthened international system at large, including the establishment of a Global Health Threats Council to support multisectoral coordination, promote accountability, and guide the resources of a new International Pandemic Finance Facility. Our aim is to do whatever it takes to make this the last pandemic.

Member States: regarding vaccines, we simply need to see more doses shared and faster. The Panel gave the world a target of 1 billion doses to be redistributed before 1 September. We have seen some progress but much more is needed, and we know that the doses are available. There is no time to wait. We also need to see urgent agreements on voluntary licensing and technology transfer. August 12th will represent three months since we first called for these agreements, and if there is not progress on voluntary licensing and technology transfer, we have recommended a waiver of TRIPS intellectual property rights come into force immediately.   

The Panel has delivered its report. There is now time for implementation. We as Co-Chairs and Panellists will be monitoring implementation of the recommendations, and if it is of interest, we look forward to being available to help with the important work ahead.

Prime Minister Clark and I are deeply grateful to have been given this opportunity to lead the work of the Independent Panel, and we appreciate all the support and contributions from around the world that made the work possible.

Let’s make this the last pandemic. Once again, thank you.


Scroll to Top