Coronavirus: Former PM Helen Clark talks about World Health Organisation panel, economy as world grapples with Covid-19

Coronavirus: Former PM Helen Clark talks about World Health Organisation panel, economy as world grapples with Covid-19

Coronavirus: Former PM Helen Clark talks about World Health Organisation panel, economy as world grapples with Covid-19

British High Commissioner Laura Clarke and former Prime Minister Helen Clark spoke about the coronavirus pandemic and moving forward at a conference organised by the British High Commission and Diplosphere on Monday.

ROSA WOODS/Stuff

British High Commissioner Laura Clarke and former Prime Minister Helen Clark spoke about the coronavirus pandemic and moving forward at a conference organised by the British High Commission and Diplosphere on Monday.

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark says the objective of a new World Health Organisation (WHO) panel is simple.

“It is how we could do better next time and there will be a next time – there will probably be many next times,” she said.

Clark along with former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, is co-chairing the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response.

Speaking to British High Commissioner Laura Clarke at a conference called Let’s Build Back Better on Monday, Clark said “we cannot have economy and the normal cycle of life grind to a halt every time a pandemic gets away and this one is well and truly away”.

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The effect of the coronavirus pandemic was something that was going to be felt for decades, she said.

“In a way, it’s been remarkable that it took a century for something to roll out the way this did because we’re so much more interconnected now.”

There were concerns around immunity and while experts were working on a vaccine, Clark told the crowd “let’s not hold our breath”.

Helen Clark, who co-chairs the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, says the panel is focused on looking at how pandemic response could be better.

ROSA WOODS/Stuff

Helen Clark, who co-chairs the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, says the panel is focused on looking at how pandemic response could be better.

“This could become an endemic disease that we have to manage, and we don’t need too many of those, so how could we do better next time, what lessons can be learned – it certainly shouldn’t be a name and shame commission, what point would there be? Let’s keep it factual, keep it real and keep it constructive as to the way ahead.”

Clark said politics had a huge amount to do with the response towards coronavirus in a range of countries.

“One of my concerns has been the way, under the cover of Covid, some regimes of an authoritarian character have used the opportunity to squeeze opposition even further so there are in some places, some quite significant human rights implications.”

Clark says what works well is transparency and leaders being upfront with the population.

ROSA WOODS/Stuff

Clark says what works well is transparency and leaders being upfront with the population.

What worked well was transparency and leaders being upfront with a population, she said.

In New Zealand, “regardless of politics, everyone bought into the need to get this done … it lasted long enough to have an effective response”, she said.

But not every society had been as fortunate as New Zealand where borders could be sealed and coronavirus came quite late.

British High Commissioner Laura Clarke and former Prime Minister Helen Clark took part in a keynote conversation at Te Papa Museum on Monday.

ROSA WOODS/Stuff

British High Commissioner Laura Clarke and former Prime Minister Helen Clark took part in a keynote conversation at Te Papa Museum on Monday.

Going forward, innovative ideas and smart thinking would be needed as the economy grappled with the effects of the pandemic.

“To get back to the levels of employment and GDP per capita that we’d like, we have to grow that cake again and grow it at a time when a couple of sectors in particular have taken a mortal blow, one’s international tourism … and the other was international students … so what replaces that [export earnings of these sectors] is the question.”

Clark spoke to the British High Commissioner and a crowd about recovering from the coronavirus pandemic and moving forward.

ROSA WOODS/Stuff

Clark spoke to the British High Commissioner and a crowd about recovering from the coronavirus pandemic and moving forward.

She hoped that with the enormous number of New Zealanders coming home there would be innovative and enterprising people thinking about wealth creation.

Clark says the pandemic could provide an opportunity to refocus on sustainability, the climate crisis and other issues the world was dealing with.

ROSA WOODS/Stuff

Clark says the pandemic could provide an opportunity to refocus on sustainability, the climate crisis and other issues the world was dealing with.

“You always get innovation out of crisis and I hope that’s the spirit that will imbue New Zealanders. It’s not going to be the way it was – let’s stop even thinking it could be, it can’t so what’s the next set of ideas to take us forward?”

Clark said the pandemic could provide an opportunity to refocus on sustainability, the climate crisis and other issues the world was dealing with.

“If New Zealand could be a voice for reset I think we would all feel very proud of that.”

RNZ

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark says an investigation into the World Health Organisation’s handling of Covid 19 will inevitably look at every step it took to tackle the pandemic.

Stuff

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