Global leaders must prioritize people’s lives over any other issue, particularly as the world is reeling from the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said.
Speaking at a roundtable organized by Club de Madrid as the world marked the second year since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, Madam Sirleaf urged the international community to increase dialogue to improve pandemic preparedness and response.
Madam Sirleaf underscored the remarkable work undertaken by women leaders “whose response to the pandemic brought a whole different approach.” Women all over the world, she added, were key players in the fight against the pandemic, from nurses to health practictioners to community workers. Their contribution to the pandemic response proved that their marginalization must be brought to an end.
She also pointed out that progress toward the United Nations’ Common Agenda—for which she will lead the Advisory Board alongside former Prime Minister of Sweden Stefan Löfven—is being challenged by the current climate of global disunity:
“We’re now about to go into the Common Agenda, which is to be the most recent attempt… to address equity issues. And it comes at a time when global action is at its lowest ebb because the most powerful nations are not unified.”
Addressing the recommendations put forward by the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPPR), which she co-chaired with former Prime Minister of New Zealand Helen Clark, Madam Sirleaf said that their implementation is conditional upon political will and global cooperation. Preparing for future pandemics starts with addressing the shortcomings of national health systems, implementing adequate financing, and reforming global health systems, she added.
Madam Sirleaf was joined by the Director General of the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, Antoni Plasència, Vice-President of the Spanish National Research Council, Jesús Marco, and Co-founder and Executive Director of Salud por Derecho, Vanessa López.
Watch the full roundtable here: https://youtu.be/bYk8CSg0w_E