New Delhi: Former health secretary Preeti Sudan has been appointed as a member of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response. The global panel will evaluate international response to the Covid-19 pandemic and submit a report by May 2021 to the World Health Assembly.
Sudan, a 1983-batch IAS officer of the Andhra Pradesh cadre, had retired as the Union health secretary in July.
Some of the other members of this panel are David Miliband, CEO of International Rescue Committee and former foreign secretary of the United Kingdom; Ernesto Zedillo, economist and former president of Mexico; and Helen Clark, former prime minister of New Zealand.
While the panel will be assisted by its secretariat based out of Geneva, meetings will be held via video conferences. Panel members will not get any remuneration. If conditions allow, the last meeting will take place in Geneva.
The panel will hold its first meeting on 17 September 2020. After that, it is expected to seek evidence and views from a broad range of stakeholders, including the member states of the World Health Organization, health experts, economists, specialists on social impacts of the pandemic, representatives of the civil society and the private sector, besides the public.
“In the course of this year, Covid-19 has spread around the world, impacting in one way or another on the lives of every person on our planet. We intend to learn all that we can about its early emergence, global spread, health, economic and social impacts, and how it has been controlled and mitigated,” Clark said in a statement on 3 September, while announcing the names of the panellists.
“The panel’s recommendations will aim to support effective management of the pandemic and strengthen how the world can prepare for and respond to future pandemics,” the statement added.
‘Took all government clearances’
When contacted by ThePrint, Sudan declined to speak on her appointment. Sources close to her said she took “all government clearances before saying yes”.
“And all the clearances were given in one day. The panel will examine what has been the international response to this pandemic, based on assessment of the agencies involved in it,” said a source. “The pandemic has shown that international cooperation and coordination is required and nations are linked in various ways that could shape intra- and inter-government responses for this and for future pandemics.”
Sudan was due to retire in April but was given a three-month extension because of the pandemic. She led the Covid-19 battle till her retirement in July but maintained a very low profile, never addressing any briefing on the pandemic. She had not even given an interview until just a few days before her retirement.
Speaking about the appointment, a senior health ministry official told ThePrint that it was important that “somebody from India is on the panel and there is international recognition of the fact that our early decisions helped prevent large scale loss of life”.