Coronavirus (1224) Effective leadership is the ultimate vaccine against coronavirus

11 April, 2021

Below are extracts from a news item and a comment from me. The item is by Dr Peter Singer, special advisor to the director general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and assistant director general of the World Health Organization.

Read online:


Decision-makers are the key to healthy nations and prosperous economies. It’s vital those in power valorize science, and show humility, empathy and solidarity...

Countries vary in Covid-19 death rates by a factor of more than 100. Key elements that have led to success are not just preparedness and strong health systems, but trust between people and government. The foundation of this trust is effective leadership – from local communities to heads of international organisations, and the highest levels of government in the most powerful nations.

First and foremost, leadership requires the courage to tell the truth to the public even when the news is bad, and the truths are hard to accept. Truthful leaders valorise science, evidence and data, and these factors drive decisions. They acknowledge weakness, admit mistakes, seek help, and share information – not only with their own people but with other countries because this will be good for all countries...

The big reveal of the pandemic is that trust is essential to health. Leadership builds (or destroys) trust, and the return (or cost) of leadership is measured in citizens’ lives and livelihoods, often those most vulnerable and marginalised.


Comment: I have submitted a response to this online: 'Individual heads of democratic countries have dictated with impunity the public health policy of their populations, with disastrous consequences. Work by with the New York Law School in 2012/13 shows that governments have a legal obligation under international human rights law to ensure every person has access to reliable healthcare information, and yet several heads of state have emerged as drivers of dangerous misinformation. Such heads of state are violating human rights. I look forward to discuss options for making heads of state accountable.'

Best wishes, Neil

Coordinator, HIFA project on COVID-19, supported by University of Edinburgh

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health movement (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 20,000 members in 180 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages in collaboration with WHO. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: