NEW DELHI: Global health reformer, Professor Ilona Kickbusch discusses the goal of accelerating the development of a vaccine for the coronavirus with an $8 billion fund and the ethics of lockdowns, tracing and tracking those infected, in this conversation with StratNews Global Associate Editor Amitabh P. Revi. With vast experience in the WHO, government and as an academic, also as a health and political science expert, she looks at the geo-political fallout of the U.S. pulling funding from the WHO, Australian proposals for stringent inspector regimes, accountability and the double standards of the global system. As a member of the independent Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, Professor Kickbusch commended it for being broad-based and inclusive, and therefore the appropriate forum for taking such public and international health issues forward.
She highlighted German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s role in becoming the public face of government action against the pandemic and winning the people’s trust (her approval ratings are above 80%). With the lives versus livelihood balance being different in every country, she said it was essential for governments to build public trust. She acknowledged that the pandemic may have sidelined other diseases like Polio, TB and Ebola, but she believes that the health infrastructure built up including trained community workers is an incredible public health resource.
Professor Ilona Kickbusch advises countries on global health strategies and trains health specialists and diplomats in global health diplomacy. She is a member of the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB), an independent monitoring and accountability body to ensure preparedness for global health crises. Professor Kickbusch has had a distinguished career in the WHO, government, and academia. She led the International Health Division at Yale University and has been part of the Health 2020, the European health policy framework and the independent Ebola interim assessment panel of the WHO. Professor Kickbusch has been awarded the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in recognition of her invaluable contributions to innovation in governance for global health and global health diplomacy. She has a deep India connection, having grown up in Chennai when her father was a diplomat.