World Health Organisation sets up panel to review handling of COVID-19 pandemic

World Health Organisation (WHO) sets up panel to review handling of COVID-19 pandemic
World Health Organisation (WHO) sets up panel to review handling of COVID-19 pandemic
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GENEVA/ZURICH (9News Nigeria) – The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday it was setting up an independent panel to review its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the response by governments worldwide.FILE PHOTO: A logo is pictured on the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, November 22, 2017. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

The announcement follows strong criticism by U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, which accused the WHO of being “China-centric”, and U.S. formal notification on Tuesday that it was withdrawing from the U.N. agency in a year’s time.

Former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark and former Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf have agreed to head the panel, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

World Health Organisation (WHO) sets up panel to review handling of COVID-19 pandemic
World Health Organisation (WHO) sets up panel to review handling of COVID-19 pandemic

“The magnitude of this pandemic, which has touched virtually everyone in the world, clearly deserves a commensurate evaluation, an honest evaluation,” Tedros told a virtual meeting with representatives of WHO’s 194 member states.

The co-chairs will select the other panel members, he said. The panel will then provide an interim report to an annual meeting of health ministers in November and present a “substantive report” next May.

“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,” Tedros said.

In May, WHO’s member states adopted unanimously a resolution proposed by the European Union calling for an evaluation of the global response to the pandemic.

Addressing Thursday’s meeting, Clark said the assignment would be “exceptionally challenging”.

Johnson-Sirleaf, whose country was ravaged by West Africa’s Ebola outbreak, the world’s worst, in 2014-2016, said she looked forward “to doing all we can to respond” to the pandemic’s challenges.

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More than 12 million people are reported to have been infected by the novel coronavirus worldwide and 548,429​ have died, according to a Reuters tally.

Ilona Kickbusch, a global health expert and former WHO head of communications, told Reuters on Wednesday that any review had to be credible.

“It has to be seen as a group of people that one can trust, that can start the process, and will probably involve others,” she said.

Additional reporting by Michael Shields and Brenna Hughes-Neghaiwi in Zurich; writing by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Michael Shields and Gareth Jones

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