Dr. Tom Frieden served as Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Commissioner of the New York City Health Department. His work made New York City’s tuberculosis control program and overall health department models for the world, established effective programs in India, and improved morale, effectiveness, and impact at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Tom Frieden’s influential publications have identified the what, how and why of action to improve health. Dr. Tom Frieden is a physician with advanced training in internal medicine, infectious disease, public health, and epidemiology.
Emma Ingaiza. Health Manager, Shining Hope for Communities; Emma has more than 6 years’ experience in health programs design, management and implementation with a focus on increased access to affordable and quality primary healthcare among underserved communities. She has experience in designing and implementing programs addressing disease management, maternal and child health, nutrition, HIV care, adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH), and is highly skilled at building cross-cultural relationships among communities in urban informal settlements. Emma is a clinical officer with an ongoing distance learning Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in Health Systems Management. She is currently overseeing Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO) primary healthcare services in a level 2 hospital in Mathare , Nairobi. She has had an opportunity to represent Kenya internationally as a One Young World Fellow and regionally in the Young African Leadership initiative East Africa (Yalieastafrica) Fellowship under Public management track.
Epie Marc Ewang Ndelle is a medical lab scientist with clinical experience for over 5 years. He also served as a Research Assistant for over three years in filarial drug discovery at the pan- ANDI centre of Excellence, university of Buea, Cameroon. He is presently working with superior health Foundation; serving as the Assistant Director in which he organizes humanitarian rapid response mechanism to people in hard to reach communities in conflict zones in Cameroon. He has been serving in crisis affected areas for over four years now, providing community health services, mobile clinics, clean emergency delivery kits and managing tropical disease outbreaks in these affected areas.
Achaleke is a youth Development, civil society activist, youth expert and university lecturer on peace building and preventing violent extremism with 11 years of experience. He is the 2018 winner of the Luxembourg Peace Prize, recognised by HM Queen Elizabeth II as Commonwealth Young Person of the Year 2016, winner of 2016 Commonwealth Youth Award of Excellence in Dev Work, and named 2016 most Influential young Cameroonian
He was born in a community renown for youth involvement in violence and violent extremist activities. Even though he was a victim of radicalisation and violence, he succeeded in transforming himself from an agent of violence to an Ambassador of peace and change.
Noam Shuster-Eliassi, 32 , is a comedian, actress, public speaker and activist who grew up in the joint Israeli-Palestinian village Neve Shalom~Wahat Al Salam. She is fluent in Arabic, which strengthens her Middle Eastern identity that is based on family roots in Iran. Ms. Shuster has worked in peacebuilding with Israelis and Palestinians, including with populations often excluded from the peace process. Today Noam uses comedy to tackle issues of racism and identity.
Amy leads Mastercard’s Start Path program for fintech/startup engagement. Through the program, Mastercard has engaged with over 200 startups from across the globe that have collectively raised +$2B in capital investment after the program. In January 2020 Start Path was awarded ‘Best Innovation Program’ by US publication Tearsheet, and in December 2019 Mastercard was recognized by the European Commission as one of the top 12 European corporates for our work with startups. Amy has a PhD in computational linguistics from Cardiff University and is passionate about making sure the world of technology is fully inclusive. Originally from the UK she now calls Ireland home, living in Dublin with her husband and son.
Noam Shuster (00:01): And I realized that I’m one of the only comedians in the world that cannot perform in front of live audience, not in zoom. And I just saw the most diverse group of people, everyone, Palestinians from all walks of the Palestinian society, Israelis from all walks of the Israeli society. It was experiencing and witnessing, you know, radical compassion.
Acheleke Christian Leke (00:25): People are very excited and happy to see that young people came together to respond and young people from different walks of life. On Saturday, we realized that we had produced 10,000 bottles of these hand sanitizers.
Dr. Tom Frieden (00:38): The more we can recognize that we’re all in this together, that there’s only one enemy, that enemy is a virus, the safer we’ll all be and the better we’ll get out of this. And that to me is perhaps the biggest lesson of hope that we do have the ability to work together and to get things done, and to recognize that we’re all connected, and global solidarity is something that benefits everyone.
Claudia Romo Edelman (01:11): This is the Global GoalsCast.
Edie Lush (01:13): The podcast that shows how we can change the world. This episode, recovering from the pandemic.
Claudia Romo Edelman (1:20): Recovery. Such a simple word yet contains so much. Both our personal and family stories and the challenges of communities and countries.
Edie Lush (1:30): Yes, really all of us everywhere. We’re going to talk about recovery from different perspectives. We will hear from Dr. Tom Frieden, one of the most important public health experts in the United States who will explain how to box in Coronavirus so that we can begin to resume life and work.
Claudia Romo Edelman (1:50): And we will also visit Africa to talk with health workers who are still bracing for the worst of the pandemic. But find a moment to think about life after this passes.
Edie Lush (2:01): Which is exactly what experts advise. Plan for recovery even as the crisis surrounds you. We will hear all of this and when we come back we will speak with an old friend of Global GoalsCast.
Claudia Romo Edelman (2:11): No she’s a young friend.
Edie Lush (2:13): Okay. A long-time friend, the Israeli comedian, Noam Schuster, who will share her remarkable story of contracting COVID-19 and how the virus brought Arabs and Jews together in a quarantine hotel in Jerusalem.
Noam Shuster (02:29): We have this like external thread that is the disease and we’re all sick, so Jews are not getting more than Arabs and Arabs are not getting more than Jews and we’re just like, we’re operating in a way that is detached from the power dynamics that exist outside of the hotel and I’m like, all my political knowledge and awareness just went to the garbage. I was experiencing and witnessing, you know, radical compassion and something that I haven’t seen before with people and I’m like, why do we have to go through a global pandemic for us, for me, for us to see these these things?
Claudia Romo Edelman (03:02): Noam Shuster at the Corona hotel right after this.
Michelle Cooperider (03:08): This episode of Global GoalsCast is brought to you by MasterCard. MasterCard is dedicated to building an inclusive world in which the digital economy works for everyone, everywhere.
Amy Neale (03:19): We have seen some fantastic examples of companies that we’ve worked with pivoting their own solutions to address the crisis.
Michelle Cooprider (03:28): Thanks also to CBS News Digital and Universal Production Music and to BSR, working with business to create a just and sustainable world.
Claudia Romo Edelman (03:40): Welcome back. One New World introduced us to Noam Shuster and I remember her so well.
Edie Lush (03:46): Me too. That was one of my very favourite episodes of Global GoalsCast. Three female comics who use their humour to break down stereotypes and Irish lesbian with OCD, a former investment banker originally from India who now lives in London and Noam. You’ll recall that Noam is an Israeli who turned to comedy when she became so frustrated trying to use more traditional diplomatic tools to get Arabs and Jews to at least co-exist. Her comedy includes a finally sharpened sense of irony. So when she saw the invite from the Harvard divinity school through its religion, conflict and peace initiative,
Claudia Romo Edelman (4:28): Edie, let her tell her story.
Noam Shuster (04:32): They approached me to come up with a creative project that has to do with the middle East, re-imagining Israel, Palestine, all of those topics as a committee. And the first thing that came to my mind is to offer them to develop a one woman show. And I called it the Coexistence My Ass, which is a cynical way of looking at everything here, uh, what I love to do. And I got an email back saying, Noam, we would love to have you developing a Coexistence My Ass at Harvard, everything was going amazing. This year was a dream year for me. I had a comedian called Maz Jobrani, who was one of the, you know, the biggest Iranian American comedians that I admire producing my show. He put me on stages like the Wilbur theatre in Boston and the Kennedy Centre in Washington D.C. and then the Kennedy Centre booked my show for a premiere in May. I was accepted to HBO, women in comedy festival and everything was going so smoothly. And then, what happened to you happened to me, to all of us, our emails started looking like a cancellation festival and I realized that I need to make a decision. I have nothing to do in Boston anymore. Everything is cancelled, tomorrow is cancelled and what do I do? What do I do? So was I was mourning and I was crying and documenting myself. You know, going through all of this and realizing that right now, Benjamin, the 10 year old is a better option than Donald Trump.
Noam Shuster (06:12): Usually people from the middle East want to go to America. But with the Corona crisis, people from the middle East wanted to run away from America back to the middle East. I got on a plane to Tel Aviv and there was no way to be a hundred percent safe on this journey. I immediately quarantined myself. I did not say hello to my parents, just from afar. And four days after I started developing the symptoms and my goodness, I don’t wish this to my biggest enemies. I had all the symptoms. I was really, really suffering. The worst day was losing a lot of oxygen and not being able to breathe. And ambulance came and took me to the hospital. And you know, I’m 33 I’m healthy. I have nothing in my medical background. I’m not a smoker, I’m not a joker, I’m not a midnight talker, just kidding. But in the hospital they gave me 24 hours of, of oxygen and then I was released to a Corona hotel.
Edie Lush (7:25): That is so crazy. So what is the Corona hotel?
Noam Shuster (7:29): Oh my goodness. It’s a hotel that is managed by the, the ministry of defense, by the army. And so once you’re admitted into this hotel with a bunch of sick people, you cannot live until you heal. they quarantine us in this hotel, they contain us. And ironically, all the sick people together in this hotel are allowed to socialize, to hug, to do whatever they want while the healthy people outside are lonely and separated. And so I was thrown in this hotel straight into a Zumba class in the lobby, and I realized that I’m one of the only comedians in the world that can perform in the lobby, in front of live audience, not in zoom. And so I very, very quickly realized that I’m in a very special place, maybe one of the most unique places in the world right now as people are separated. And I just saw the most diverse group of people all to Orthodox religious Jews there, everyone, Palestinians from all walks of the Palestinian society, Israelis from all walks of the Israeli society. And all my life, I’ve been part of dialogue groups and peace camp and I grew up in this coexistence community and I speak Arabic also. Uh, I do comedy in Hebrew and Arabic and suddenly all these organic connections are happening, not artificially because we have this like external thread that is the disease and we’re all sick.
Noam Shuster (09:09): So Jews are not getting more than Arabs and Arabs are not getting more than Jews. And we’re just like, we’re operating in a way that is detached from the power dynamics that exist outside of the hotel. And I’m like, all my political knowledge and awareness just went to the garbage. I was experiencing and witnessing, you know, radical compassion and something that I haven’t seen before with people. And I’m like, why do we have to go through a global pandemic for us, for me, for us to see these, these things. And you know, and then people are cynical and they’re telling me, Oh, it’s not a real life, blah, blah, blah. But I couldn’t look for problems from under the carpet. I couldn’t see any racism. I couldn’t see any, anything toxic. People were just really taking care of each other, and I was like, damn, what’s happening? There’s going to be like peace now what am I going to do stand up about? But luckily this place provided me with a lot of materials and really the show also was um, it was really, I mean I hardly had a voice. It was very hard for me to project because we didn’t have any equipment or something. The only spaces available for us are our rooms, the lobby and a balcony. So it’s not like the entire hotel in the spine getting massages and stuff. Right. Everything. It’s, it’s like a war zone.
Edie Lush (10:27): And did it work? How, how was the show? Did, did everybody laugh? Did, did both sides of the audience laugh?
Noam Shuster (10:33): When you’re stuck together, sick in a hotel, you are hungry and thirsty for everything and obviously for laughter and it was great. People were laughing, people were happy, you know, it brings people together.
Noam Shuster (10:54): I was kind of introducing myself to the audience and I was saying how much I’ve been through a hard time because I left the US and I was supposed to put on a show there in Hebrew, Arabic in English, and then I asked is there someone speaking in Arabic in the audience? And a few were audience members raised their hands and asked, where are you from? And they told me a name of a village where there are cases there that supermarket cashier has got half of the village sick. So I said, Oh, did you hear about these cashiers? They’ve got all these people sick. And then she raised her hand and she said, that’s me. I was like, damn. It’s like God told you, Whoa, Harvard Kennedy centre, blah blah blah. Come, come, come, come back home. I’m going to get you sick, but I’m going to get you skinny and famous and you’re going to be the only comedian performing in a lobby. So we’re trying to look at the positive side of this.
Edie Lush (11:55): About your thoughts about Coexistence My Ass now.
Noam Shuster (11:59): Well, that’s a good question. I’m going to have to sit with all of this like mushroom trip that I’ve been through, sit with all these materials and see where I was, where I am now. Also what’s happening in the real outside world. But I know one thing for sure, I’m not going to look for problems where they don’t exist. I’m going to try to look at the beauty and really the uniqueness of what I saw and take out the funny parts from it and try to give strong messages to people and see what we can learn from it and what we can take from it. I think I dropped some of the cynicism that I had beforehand, and I will try to really grab this experience and try to give people some of the good when it exists.
Edie Lush (12:41): So what do you think recovery looks like for you?
Noam Shuster (12:45): So for me, recovery would be about storytelling, about telling people, you know, what I’ve been through, about, uh, telling people the good things that I saw and also highlighting the challenges that come with it. I was in the real world of the struggle to recover from this virus, and I feel like a survivor now. I got a call from the hospital telling me that I developed immunity and I can donate, do you call it plasma also in English?
Edie Lush (13:12): Yeah, exactly. The plasma, the antibodies,
Noam Shuster (13:15): So, it has to be two weeks after recovery. So I’m, I already have an appointment to go and thought that I, my body developed a, you know, antibodies that can go and now save other people. It’s a feeling that I can’t describe in words. It’s hard to thank a disease and it’s hard to thank a very, very devastating moment for all of us. But you know, I’m Jewish, we’ve been through a lot. Today is Holocaust remembrance day in Israel. I have to look at the good, I have to see a light going forward. It’s a, it’s in my blood, you know, aside from the antibodies in my blood.
Edie Lush (13:54): So it’s amazing. Cause I, I was watching one of your YouTube videos that was saying as you were leaving, it was like collective circumcision. Right. How does that feel now?
Noam Shuster (14:05): Wow. I mean, what, when I said that it’s collective circumcision. I said that, you know, in Judaism the circumcision has to be about a bond. You know, a berit, we call it a bond with God. Oh my goodness. Did I feel God during this whole process? Oh yes. They, I don’t know. I mean, I’m not a huge religious person, but I, I do believe, you know, in a higher something, you know, and I felt it. I felt like something was leading was like, you are the chosen strong woman that is going to be in this experience and, you know, go tell the world. I felt it very, very strongly. You know me a little bit, Edie, you know that I feel a huge responsibility on my shoulders to humankind, to Jews, to Arabs to, to healing parts of our trauma, traumatic pasts. And I couldn’t avoid it even now. I was like the UN ambassador of the hotel. So I’m taking it all with me. I have no choice.
Edie Lush (15:05): The chosen people, man, that’s what you are.
Noam Shuster (15:11): Oh, yay.
Claudia Romo Edelman (15:15): Oh, amazing. This virus is so powerful, so horribly powerful. But so are these lessons that we have to take and embrace.
Edie Lush (15:27): And I know Claudia, that this is very close to home for you. So how is your mom?
Claudia Romo Edelman (15:32): It’s horrible. It is. I was telling you before, this is probably the worst time in my life. There’s nothing I can do. There’s no power. There’s no Grinch that I can do with my hands that tremble of not able to be doing anything and 16 days hospitalized and after that day the virus just took one aggressive turn and put her in intensive care where she has been for eight days. So she’s in the ventilator prone, meaning upside down where she’s sedated and just fighting. My entire life since our eight days have been devoted to trying to help finding, I know more about like the drugs of this pandemic than anything, I know what is exciting doctors all around the world. I went to talk to doctors in China, in Italy, in Spain, and I’m seeing how this knowledge is incredibly useful for people in Mexico, Latin America and how important it is going to come to Africa.
Claudia Romo Edelman (16:32): So the more that we as a humanity can come together, the way that I am pretty much doing it myself and not only learning, but also passing and connecting doctors from the States to Mexico where my mother is, and ideally opening doors and deals so that pharma companies that are trying products in, in one country can try them in others. I think that the last conversation I had with my mom was talking about what we were doing with a Hispanic response or recovery plan and hearing her say like, well what really are you saying? What are you doing? She was like, I know like, well, you know, we’re trying to put information and organize, well, what really are you doing? I was like, well, I think trying to get a number of people moving from fear to action, from fear to home, and she said, okay, that’s a good job, keep doing that. And so I have to be the first teacher of my own lessons. So I’m trying to do exactly that. Moving from the paralyzed fear that I have to action and trying to be educated about this and trying to share that knowledge with other people. And what this program is. It’s about doing a plan for recovery. That’s exactly where my mind is.
Edie Lush (17:44): And so Claudia, I am really pulling for your mom and I know that everyone is so I want you to know that I think about you and her every day. Everyone is feeling some kind of stress whether they are personally affected or not, but in the developed world, one of the biggest strains right now arises as countries begin to contain the pandemic that spurs the desire to get back to work and to life as we once knew it, but the wrong moves could unleash the virus all over again.
Claudia Romo Edelman (18:20): We all need to understand this better because we’re likely to be living in this tension For quite a while Edie. We turned to Dr. Tom Frieden. He was a head of CDC, the center for disease control and before that he ran New York city health department. Now he runs a global non-for-profit called Resolve to Save Lives. Their mission is to save millions of people in poor and middle-income countries.
Edie Lush (18:49): How have you found this whole experience, Tom?
Dr. Tom Frieden (18:52): It’s surreal and it’s horrifying. I was born in New York City. I did my medical school training here. I did my internal medicine training here, my public health training here. I was an epidemic intelligence service officer here. I worked for about 20 years for the city health department and I was the commissioner, uh, for about eight years. And the extent of the devastation is really very hard for people, uh, for anyone to get their minds around. There’ve been probably more than 16 or 17,000 deaths from Corona virus in less than two months. For comparison, in the 1918, 19 influenza pandemic, there were 30,000 reported deaths in two years. So this is an unprecedented problem and I think all of us new Yorkers will, for the rest of our lives, just remember the ambulances we’ve heard day and night and knowing that each of those is someone’s life, someone’s story, someone’s tragedy. That’s why it’s so important that we work together to limit the harms that Coronavirus causes.
Edie Lush (20:03): This episode is about recovery and so we’re in the midst of the worst pandemic since the Spanish flu a century ago. How do we think about coming back from something this devastating? What does recovery look like and how do we get there?
Dr. Tom Frieden (20:22): Well, first thing to understand is sheltering at home is only half of the equation. The other half is strengthening our health and public health systems so that when we begin to come out again, we can prevent another explosion of cases. That means strengthening our healthcare system so that health workers aren’t at such risk of infection. No health worker should get infected, and it means strengthening our public health system so we can box in Covid with testing, isolation, contact tracing and quarantine. If we can get the four corners of that box right, we can reduce the risk, we can limit the spread of cases and clusters of Covid and increase our ability to go out, but it’s not going to be going back to normal, it’s going to be to a new normal, a new normal where people who have underlying health conditions and the elderly will need to shelter in place for longer a new normal where we may need to use hand sanitizer anytime we go into a building, a new normal where we may be using face masks for some time to protect others and ourselves. A new normal where we’ll have to be sure not to go out if we’re sick, even slightly sick because we may be spreading illness to others. And that’s something that’s hard to understand. This isn’t about necessarily making sure that we’re safe. It’s about collectively making sure we’re all safe by taking measures that will protect each of us. We’re at very different places in this pandemic at different times. And uh, what we see is parts of the US and parts of the world haven’t yet had a problem. We can’t predict what the future is going to be, but we know that there is essentially no immunity in the population. We don’t know if the virus will behave differently in different climates or different weather, but we can’t count on it.
Edie Lush (22:27): What’s the hardest part of those four aspects that you’ve mentioned, do you think to get right?
Dr. Tom Frieden (22:34): I think all four of the aspects are challenging. Testing, we’re still weeks or months behind having enough tests throughout the US. In terms of isolation, we’re still not doing what we need to do to protect healthcare workers. We need to provide an option for people who cannot be safely isolated at home to safely and comfortably isolate somewhere else, whether it’s a hotel or a dormitory and not risk getting others sick. We also need to protect our nursing homes. So isolation has challenges. Contact tracing is going to require a large core of contact tracers reaching out to people and um, the public understanding that this is a warning service. This is a way of alerting them so they don’t make their family and friends sick, avoidably, and quarantine can be challenging. So coming up with community supports for people who are under quarantine will be important. All four corners of that box are important. And if any one of them is weak, the virus can get out and spread widely.
Claudia Romo Edelman (23:36): I like the way Dr. Frieden doesn’t just tell us what we must do. He explains in simple, clear ways why we need to do it.
Edie Lush (23:45): I agree Claudia,and after this break I talked to him about the disparities between the global North and South. As the pandemic spreads, it’s complicated and scary. but first, here’s Amy Neale, senior vice president and global lead for MasterCard Start Path.
Amy Neale (24:07): So Start Path is MasterCard’s startup engagement program. We work with startup companies from right across the globe and our goal is to select the best and brightest, slightly later stage companies and engage them with MasterCard’s broad network – broad ecosystem. We have about 200 startups that we’ve worked with over the past six years and with whom we’ve built enduring relationships. One of the things that has meant in terms of the crisis is that we have this amazing portfolio of companies that we’re able to engage very, very quickly to solve some major challenges.
Amy Neale (24:44): We have seen some fantastic examples of companies that we’ve worked with pivoting their own solutions to address the crisis. So we have an Israeli company called voca.ai And voca basically harnesses artificial intelligence to create natural sounding empathetic, automated customer services conversations. That’s what they’ve always done. In response to covert. They’ve teamed up with Carnegie Mellon university to deploy their expertise and start collecting voice samples from covid-19 patients. And what they’re doing is looking at these models and seeing whether these models can actually be used to detect speech signals of the infection in the human voice. So they never anticipated that they would be a company operating in the medical or healthcare space, and yet they’ve been able to pivot very quickly to take their technologies and solutions and pivot them to something that could be incredibly valuable for us as we think about how we detect this virus going forward.
Amy Neale (25:45): Another example I would provide is a Brazilian company idwall. So idwall is all about ID verification for onboarding new financial services customers. You need to demonstrate you are who you say you are. Idwall has pivoted that solution to enable telemedicine. So, they’re now able to verify registered medical practitioners are who they say they are in order for them to deliver telemedicine – medical services – at distance over digital. So I think for what we’re currently experiencing, speed has been the underpinning. The impact has happened so quickly, but the response is happening incredibly quickly as well.
Claudia Romo Edelman (26:28): Welcome back to our conversation with Dr. Tom Frieden.
Edie Lush (26:35): Does it feel like to you that countries that aren’t as well off but that have very recent experience with infectious disease might in some way be better prepared than the more developed West?
Dr. Tom Frieden (26:50): It’s been interesting to see in many of the countries where we work in Africa, contact tracing is much better understood than it is in the US because it is something that we still do in the US, but not much because we don’t have much tuberculosis here anymore. And, um, it’s not done perhaps as extensively for sexually transmitted diseases and HIV and measles and other diseases as it might be here. Uh, but in Liberia, Nigeria, many other countries in Africa, they’ve been dealing with Ebola or Lassa fever or typhoid or other problems where they have to do contact tracing quite regularly. In fact, I was just seeing that Liberia with a population of roughly half of, uh, New York’s, uh, was hiring 6,000 contact tracers and identifying large numbers of contacts for each case so they could try to contain it.
Edie Lush (27:43): So thinking about the other areas in the world that you work in, are there any cautionary tales from there or indeed, anything that you’ve seen that could be implemented in the West as well?
Dr. Tom Frieden (27:57): One of the real risks is a sense of false confidence that it’s not going to come here. And I worry about parts of the US or parts of the world that are feeling like they may be immune to this. And it may be that for some time they avoid severe illness. But what New York’s experience should serve as a warning to any place in the world of how devastating this virus can be, even with the terrible death and devastation that’s happened here so far. If we hadn’t sheltered in place when we did, it would have been twice as worse and that could get much worse as we come back out. So, I think the cautionary tale is the need to take this virus very seriously. There’s no such thing as overreacting to COVID-19, there’s plenty of ways to react inappropriately, but there is no such thing as overreacting to it given how serious the threat is.
Dr. Tom Frieden (28:52): On the other hand, there are some really important lessons from around the world. We’ve seen countries put in excellent services for people who are being isolated or quarantined that encouraged them to stay separate and that’s good for them, it’s good for their families, it’s good for the community. We’ve seen examples from around the world of scaling up the traditional tried and true contact tracing where people go talk to patients who are ill and help them to warn the people who may have been exposed so that they don’t end up making others sick. So I do think we’re learning about the virus. We’re learning about what works to confront it, and that really is a global community of learning.
Dr. Tom Frieden (29:39): I’m optimistic given the devastation this virus is causing the world is going to learn a lesson and say we have to make sure that we take off the table the possibility that something preventable like this will happen in the future. Uh, my organization resolve to save lives, has been working for years to try to get resources to reduce the possibility of an epidemic emerging from Africa or Asia or elsewhere and spreading worldwide. And we’ve made progress. But nothing like the progress that’s needed. It is inevitable that there will be another serious outbreak. What’s not inevitable is that we will continue to be so woefully under prepared as a world. I’m optimistic though that people recognize now that the costs of not doing that are astronomical and we have to close those gaps for all of our sake. It’s the right thing to do and it’s also the prudent thing to do.
Claudia Romo Edelman (30:39): We asked Dr. Frieden why, despite all sorts of warnings, many people in countries seem caught on prepared for the pandemic.
Dr. Tom Frieden (30:49): I think we do suffer from a short termism that because of whether it’s political timeframes or the way our minds work, thinking about what will be good for us in the medium to long term doesn’t come naturally. Uh, there’s a fancy term for this in economics called hyperbolic discounting where we undervalue results that are in the future, uh, compared to what may happen tomorrow. If you were told, for example, if you smoke, you have a 30% chance of dying tomorrow, you’d probably quit. Uh, but because that chance of dying is spread out over the next 10 or 20 years, you’re much less likely to quit, in the same way if we said, we know there’s a terrible pandemic, another one coming tomorrow, we would put all of our resources into it. Therefore, I think we really have to counteract some of the ways both our brains and our political system are inclined to work. But that’s what good governance is about. That’s what global solidarity is about. That’s what activism can promote.
Edie Lush (32:00): Claudia, Dr. Frieden’s optimism reminds me of the way you often look at tough challenges as a job to be done.
Claudia Romo Edelman (32:07): That’s right Edie. Even in the most personal and challenging circumstances like the one I am feeling with my mother right now, we just have to get going. But getting the work done also means understanding the full story, informed optimism, informed possibilism. For that you spoke to the frontline workers in Africa?
Edie Lush (32:30): Yes, in Cameroon and Kenya. All three introduced to us by One Young World. Achaleke Christian is in Cameroon, and I reached him in his office that he’s turned into a mini factory for producing hand sanitizer.
Acheleke Christian Leke (32:45): Well a, it’s a very scary moment, uh, in the sense that people are panicking and so far, we have 1000 plus cases, so there’s a lot of here and uh, there’s a lot of issues of misinformation and uh, some people are afraid to go to the hospital.
Edie Lush (33:04): Acheleke is a 26-year-old youth organizer. Actually, he’s a former gang member and street fighter. His own personal story is incredible. He then became someone who fights for peace and works with former violent extremists. As coronavirus began to spread around the world, he focused all his efforts on trying to contain the virus. Hand sanitizer was in short supply and very expensive. So he went onto the World Health Organization website and found the recipe.
Acheleke Christian Leke (33:33): Our office decided to form a coalition where we um, reached out to young people who are health practitioners at different levels, pharmacies, uh, medical doctors and uh, lab scientists and um, safety and a water hygiene and sanitation engineers together to get them to see how we could be able to produce these hand sanitizers and give to communities for free, because we realized that it was not only us who could not purchase this, uh, preventive materials, but local communities, the ones who don’t have access to resources find it very difficult and it created some kind of panic and fear. So we decided then to step in by creating the rapid response laboratory where we were producing these hand sanitizers.
Acheleke Christian Leke (34:25): People are very excited and happy to see that young people came together to respond and young people from different walks of life. And today we have been able to mobilize also volunteers. Using online platform, we have about 350 volunteers, some come and support to do levelling of bottles and some are currently working on a training to see how we can work on misinformation and uh, you know, try to sensitize more people using online platforms and all of that. So, I mean, this has been what we have been doing. On Saturday we realized that we had produced a 10,000 bottles of this hand sanitizers, which is a big thing for us.
Edie Lush (35:06): Acheleke has been working in cities, but if you think that’s hard work, his colleague Marc Ndelle is working in the Southwest part of Cameroon, which has been the scene of a separatist rebellion. What Mark calls the crisis. He told me about people living in bushes. Claudia, their homes have been burned down and if that isn’t enough, they’re now facing the global pandemic.
Marc Ewang Ndelle (35:29): We are carrying our rapid response in the hard-to-reach areas in the Southwest region where it has been highly hit by the crisis. So we produce clean, emergency delivery kits and we carry out consultations, mobile health clinics in those areas where internally displaced people have created new communities in, in bushes.
Edie Lush (35:52): And tell me why those areas are in such need.
Marc Ewang Ndelle (35:56): Due to the crisis the houses, the villages have been burned down so some of them don’t have families in other cities. So they are forced to move into bushes for them to set up like new houses there in the bushes. That’s the only option they have to recover them. Uh, yeah, it’s, it’s a tough time. But um, as a humanitarian with the zeal to always help out, I just had to move. And even though there is much fear out there, we just have to do what we have to do to, to help out.
Claudia Romo Edelman (36:40): Edie spoke to Emma Ingaiza from a health center in Kibera, the crowded slum in Nairobi. Emma is part of a program called Shining Hope for Communities, SHOFCO for short, which even before the pandemic has been putting local health workers in the community. She describes the same fears and panick as in Cameron and also the inspiring community actions leading the way to recovery and an unexpected but welcome side effect of the increased hand washing.
Emma Ingaiza (37:15): For the first time in healthcare, I feel like the power to manage disease, the power to be able to arrest the spread of disease is moving from healthcare providers to communities, and for me, that is really huge because all the time in the past has been the healthcare provider who has all the power about what to do when to do but this time we are empowering the community members and it’s coming in handy. It is the most powerful tool we have currently at SHOFCO because they are trusted more than known in the community and therefore they are able to pass the information better than you would at facility level. We’ve had them go door to door, we’ve had them distribute soaps that have been donated, we’ve had them demonstrate handwashing. They’ve been able to give us data that influences even other things like people living with disabilities, the pregnant mothers at home and just help us map the very high risk areas in the community. For the first time with the hand washing that comes with Covid, There’s been a mass increase in wash activities and the urban informal settlements. I’m experiencing less and less at cases of diarrhoea cases reporting to the facilities.
Claudia Romo Edelman (38:37): Stronger basic health services have always been central to the Global Goals Edie, and we can see why now it is a striking as Emma reports that the sanitary measures watch, as we call them in developing language, adopted to curve covered are reducing other maladies among the urban poor in Nairobi slums. So the question is can we keep these advances after the pandemic? Edie after listening to all these, I think that we have to recognize how this pandemic is hitting like in waves, it’s like one tsunami that comes in one continent and then goes to the other and then goes to the other and then goes to the other. And we have not seen really how many waves and how strong they will continue being. So it is quite hard to see countries and continents like Latin America and Africa just starting to get these pandemic and not being able yet to get the playbook and to get the best practices. So I would love to see more of that. What we were talking in the last episode is turn up the volume, turn it up, make sure that people understand how serious this is and that we can get going. I’m absolutely really, really clear that there is an aspect of this pandemic that is showing us how it’s not only horrendous. This is a really, really terrifying virus. This is the worst thing I’ve ever lived in my life. And you know me, I’m the optimist of the century, but this is really horrendous. It’s like a horror movie that has no ending. But what I can see is that this is humanizing us. This is getting people to be by far more humble. We’re seeing the incredible side of like, Oh my God, I really didn’t need to be working in an office so much. This is working for me, or look at the sky is green and you know, we have more clear skies than ever before. So it’s humanizing or some putting us all in a same area. But it is not the same boat. It is the same storm. And for some people it is more comfortable storm than for others. And I think that the other part that we have to be looking at Edie, how incredibly clear inequalities will be starting to surface for those that are affected the most. And I can tell you in America the work that I do here with the US Hispanics again and again, I go back to how Hispanics are disproportionately affected with the highest mortality index, with the highest lost jobs, incomes and salaries because the industries where we work, and we’re the hardest, more disproportionally exposed because we’re the ones that are running the country, delivering the food, working in hospitals and so on. So I think that there’s a lot of global reflection that has to be done about how we need to really think about what will be the world after college.
Edie Lush (41:35): Exactly what you were just saying there. I think that we’re all in the same storm. Some of us are weathering in super yachts and others are weathering it in rafts on the sea that risk being broken apart. And we’re going to build on this in the next episode when we talk about building back better, and the inequalities that we are facing. I was so struck Claudia by listening to president Macron the other day who saw Covid-19 as an existential threat to humanity. He thinks it will change the very nature of globalization and the structure of international capitalism. And actually he took a very Global GoalsCast view by saying that in recent years, globalization has increased inequalities in developed countries. So exactly what you were talking about there. He said that it was very clear that the kind of globalization that we’ve taken for granted was reaching the end of its cycle because it was undermining democracy.
Edie Lush (42:37): The other thing I wanted to mention was I think we’ve had the sledgehammer, so I really liked this idea of the hammer and the dance. 30% of the world was locked down. So we’ve had the sledgehammer in parts of the world and for those parts, now it’s the dance so you can keep the virus contained, you can’t get rid of it, right. Dr Frieden described it to us as boxing it in with his four steps: test, isolate, trace and quarantine. So we could call it Dr. Frieden’s box step. But I think that was fascinating and the only thing keeping me going is that there is going to be some kind of new normal, while it’s not going to be normal, it’s definitely going to be new. The other thing that I want to introduce is the World Food Program, who has warned that as a result of Covid-19 we could be facing a famine of biblical proportions. And that is not just for countries that import food, that is extreme hunger in places like the United States and with people like exactly those people that you are working with.
Claudia Romo Edelman (43:43): That’s correct. And in America you have only 25% of pork production. So the farmers and the people that are, what you are saying, the goods are getting infected and those quarantines, and so I do see a cycle that we have to break and what gets me excited, Edie, I I think is that since that last conversation I had with my mom moving us from fear to action, moving us from fear to hope. So while we’re in this, I’m really scared because it’s the scariest time that I think that everyone of our living generations has seen. But I think that for anyone of us, this is the scariest thing, but we have to move from fear to action and from fear to hope. And I think that that’s the power of looking at advancing this theory like displaying, muscling, the spirit, the human spirit to see like I know I’m scared and nevertheless I have to look two steps ahead. And that’s where the word recovery comes so much into mind. I had a conversation today with Jack Hilary, Jack Hilary who I hope we can introduce in the next episode who was talking about like rethinking the future, rethinking what kind of an economy we could create. It’s almost like reshaping the new economy so that we can come back with a different set of rules and talking about like the type of work that we will do, the type of education that will have to have, the type of healthcare system that we have to have. And if we can actually start looking at building back better, I hope that we can also understand that recovery is a word that has a heavy connotation if we want to do it right. And we need a plan, and I hope that we can bring to the Global GoalsCast all those people that are clever enough to be in a room and start looking at how does recovery is constructed so that we can get there. Particularly for those that need to recover the most.
Edie Lush (45:39): It’s really interesting what’s happened to the trust within Covid-19. What this episode showed for me is that the local community networks that are being set up as a result of Covid-19, whether it is my WhatsApp group in London bringing me much closer with my neighbors, I’m going to pharmacies for my neighbors, I’m doing shopping for my neighbors who cannot leave their houses, to the people in Kibera in the Kibera slums who are going out and helping other people wash their hands more. It’s incredible to see it in action and I do think that that idea of local communities, the power of trust that will help Dr. Frieden’s box step work, even better.
Claudia Romo Edelman (46:26): Edie, you have something to show off and this is a time of darkness that could do with a little sparkle.
Edie Lush (46:35): So I was on the citizens climate lobby podcast and it was an incredible episode actually talking, it was supposed to be talking about climate grief. So that feeling that we feel helplessness turning into action around climate change. It ended up comparing the grief around climate change to the grief that we’re feeling around Covid-19 and it was an incredibly powerful experience for me to be part of it. I actually, I was just listening to the episode before coming on today and it’s incredible. It’s a bunch of people talking about the grief, the really deep feelings that they have every day dealing with Covid-19 and also comparing that to what we think about climate change and feeling an action towards that. You can listen at citizensclimatelobby.org or you get your podcasts.
Claudia Romo Edelman (47:37): Edie, every episode from the very beginning we have our section of facts and actions never so relevant than now. So we give you three facts that you can take on and show off with whomever you can show off in a zoom meeting and just like demonstrate that you know what you’re talking about on this area, and three actions that you can take. This episode from our partners, the world food program, WFP.
Edie Lush (48:07): We’ve got Jonathan Rivers who’s the head of world food program’s hunger monitoring unit. They are scaling up in a hurry to respond to the pandemic.
Jonathan Rivers (48:19): Facts number one. Prior to the emergence of Covid-19, 2020 was already anticipated to be a year of unprecedented humanitarian crisis. Consider these numbers for one second. 821 million people or one person out of every nine goes to bed hungry every night. In 2019 alone, 135 million people, up from 113 million a year prior, experienced acute food insecurity and by acute food insecurity, I mean their lives or their livelihoods were in immediate danger. Of the 135 million, 77 million were food insecure due to conflict, 34 million were food insecure due to climate change and an additional 24 million were food insecure due to economic crisis. And let me remind, this was before Covid-19 Fact number two, WFP expects the Covid-19 pandemic to disrupt global supply chains and have significant livelihood impacts in countries across the world, ultimately exacerbating what is already a worrying food security situation. In fact, WFP estimates that in 2020 just due to Covid-19, we will see another 130 million people experience acute food insecurity on top of the 135 million people identified as vulnerable in 2019. So in other words, the number of severely food insecure is likely to double as a result of Covid-19. Fact number three, witnessing the multitude of ever-changing consequences of this pandemic, good quality data is now more than ever a vital priority. Right now, WFP is continuously monitoring supply chain livelihood and food security impacts of Covid-19 in real time, across 17 countries. Soon we’ll be expanding this level of monitoring to more than 30 countries where WFP expects the impact of covert 19 to be greatest. These efforts to capture robust timely data allow us to provide accessible information to support the strategic priorities of the global humanitarian response plan. This data will also be accessible and available as a global public good to support everyone who is working to address covert 19 across the world, including governments and civil society. These monitoring systems will not only allow WFP and our partners to save lives and livelihoods in the short term, but they will also help facilitate and provide the evidence base for a better and stronger recovery longer term.
Jonathan Rivers (50:43): And here are three concrete actions to support the global Covid-19 response. First, protect the vulnerable and save lives. In practice, this can be things as simple as not panic buying. Panic buying can disrupt supply chains, drive commodity prices up, and make it difficult for the poor and vulnerable in your community to access the goods and services that they need. This could also mean simply checking in with those at risk in your community to ensure that their essential needs are met. If your focus is more global, then download WFP’s Share the Meal application. through this application, a donation of just 50 cents can feed one child for an entire day. If many people do this, it can have a very big impact. Second, do what you can to support local livelihoods wherever possible. Buy locally, reach out and support your local businesses. And if you’re thinking of donating to various organizations or charities, check that these donations go to organizations who are empowering local livelihoods. Third, join our global effort to respond to Covid-19 in the poorest and most vulnerable countries around the world. This has already brought a range of key humanitarian organizations and civil society together. Learn more about the lands and whether it’s the sharing of key information through your social media for exploring how your community or company can support every voice and every action counts.
Claudia Romo Edelman (51:56): Well, thanks to WFP for those facts and actions, and thank you for our guests on this episode.
Edie Lush (52:02): And thanks to you for listening. Please do like subscribe and share, and follow us on social media @GlobalGoalsCast.
Claudia Romo Edelman (52:12): Stay safe, stay home, stay strong and wash your hands. See you next time. Bye.
Michelle Cooperider (52:22): Global GoalsCast was hosted by Edie Lush and Claudia Romo Edelman. We are editorial gurued by Mike Oreskes. Editing and sound production by Simon James. Our operations director is Michelle Cooperider and our interns, Brittany Segarra, Taryn Remi, and Dylan pots. Music in this episode was courtesy of Universal Production Music, one of the world’s leading production music companies, creating and licensing music for film, television, advertising, broadcast, and other media, including podcasts. Original music by Neil Hale, Angelica Garcia, Simon James, Katie Crone and Andrew Phillips. This episode is brought to you by MasterCard, creating scalable solutions for sustainable and inclusive economic growth. Thanks also to CBS News Digital and to BSR working for a just and sustainable world.