Today the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB), in its annual report, calls for specific and immediate global actions to prevent and mitigate health emergencies. The former Co-Chairs of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (the Independent Panel) welcome the GPMB’s report and agree that the trajectory of COVID-19 and its health, social, and economic impacts demand urgent and coherent reforms to end the current pandemic; and prepare for and respond to future global health emergencies.
The Independent Panel former Co-Chairs, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Prime Minister Helen Clark, have underscored the need for a series of specific reforms to be made as a package, affecting governance, leadership, and co-ordination, financing, rapid information sharing, the equitable provision of essential supplies including vaccines, an independent, well-resourced World Health Organization, and accountability mechanisms. The GPMB calls for change in the same areas, adding to the evidence-based chorus calling for reforms.
The former Co-Chairs in particular welcome the GPMB’s call for a UN Summit of Heads of State and Government, and for an international agreement on health emergency preparedness and response. The Independent Panel recommended that such a meeting commit to transform pandemic preparedness and response through a political declaration for action, leading to a Head of State and Government-level Global Health Threats Council which would secure stronger political leadership and sustained commitment on pandemic preparedness and response, and set and independently monitor priorities and targets.
The former Co-Chairs also welcome the call for a collective financing mechanism that moves decisively away from the charity model. Financing for preparedness and response must include all countries and be based on ability to pay. COVID-19 has demonstrated, with devastating consequences, that health security is in the mutual interests of all. Every country therefore has a stake in a financing mechanism, no matter their capacity to contribute.
The former Co-Chairs of the Independent Panel are in full agreement with the GPMB’s assessment that there is some momentum towards reform, but that there is a risk of too much fragmentation of effort and results. They underscore that reformed Head-of-State and Government-level governance, leadership, and co-ordination, financing, equitable access to supplies, and accountability are interlinked aspects of what is needed to end this pandemic and mitigate future risks. The failure to reform these areas while global attention is on the pandemic is a recipe for another pandemic.
The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response released its recommendations in a report to the World Health Assembly in May 2021. The former Co Chairs will issue an update on progress towards implementation of the Panel’s recommendations in November 2021.