Sweden’s Ambassador for Global Health elected Secretary for WHO panel on COVID-19 response

Sweden's Ambassador for Global Health, Anders Nordström, has been elected Secretary of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPR). The panel was recently established by the World Health Organization (WHO) and has been tasked with evaluating the world’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ambassador Nordström hopes that the panel will evaluate how the measures to limit Covid-19, often quite drastic, have affected long-term preventive health work.

"What we should look at is whether the best advice has been provided with the knowledge that existed," said Nordström. "The main goal is to learn how to act in the future and what you can do differently the next time it happens."

Nordström also expressed concerns about cuts to official development assistance as economic growth has declined in donor countries.

“Action against other diseases is now affected when there is a shortage of health care, contraception, medicines, and vaccines,” he said. “I have seen information that 117 million children are at risk of not receiving routine vaccination against measles, which is a deadly disease.”

Nordström continued, “I have noted that a lot of targeted contributions have been made in the fight against COVID-19, which is of course good, but in my opinion, aid is a tool for poverty reduction and increasing resilience in society. In that sense, to start counting how much funding different countries spend on efforts against COVID-19 is to approach it from the wrong end.” He noted that it could be that the effects of decreased vaccination campaigns, caused by a policy shift from preventative care to fighting COVID-19, end up being more catastrophic than the effects of the pandemic itself.

Additional panel members include the former Prime Minister of New Zealand and UNDP Administrator, Helen Clark, and the former President of Liberia and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The panel will present its final report to the WHO in May of 2021.

News article – Omvärlden (in Swedish)