Global Geneva Newsletter, 17 March, 2020

Dear Friends:

As a journal focusing on planetary concerns, we see our readers not only as global, but as well-travelled and informed individuals curious about new and unusual insights coming from different, often unexpected quarters. (Please see one of our latest features: NuseReal with selected news items from around the world.) The need for such an approach becomes even clearer when confronted by a pandemic as detrimental as Coronavirus.

Currently living between Geneva and Bangkok, I have found the contrast between response actions here in Southeast Asia and the United States staggering. President Trump’s factually incorrect downplaying of this disease has severely delayed appropriate counter-measures. Europe has not done so well either, but now appears to be redeeming itself. The UK, however, is still being criticized for failing to deal with the outbreak properly. (See Global Geneva piece with advicefrom Johns Hopkins on what to do)

Here in Thailand, which some Europeans and Americans still refer to as ‘Third World’ despite its incredibly vibrant (although now threatened) economy, the virus appears relatively contained. To date, there have been just over 70 cases, most of them the result of outside infections. Both the Thai government and people have embraced measures that are working.

Thailand, Taiwan, China and South Korea appear to be containing the disease

The local population seems to have a relatively good understanding of what the pandemic is about. Virtually every super market, restaurant, office building or BTS Skytrain station offers free access to hand disinfectants and often temperature control points. For those in need of COVID-19 testing, facilities are readily accessible and free. So are facemasks. Some schools have closed and many office workers are now operating from home.

In other words, the country is dealing with the virus right up front. It has been like this for several weeks. The same seems to be happening in China, South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan, where new cases are dropping or no longer emerging. The focus is now on Europe and North America.

President Trump’s irresponsible obsession to place politics over the need to protect the American people is more than likely to haunt him as the November 2020 elections approach. This includes his government’s almost criminal decision over the past two years to cut funding for the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta and to deny appropriate financial support for the World Health Organization in Geneva.

The real issue now is whether Americans will finally grasp the importance of investing properly in health care and education. Both represent far better investments for the future than the often corrupt corporate military machine, whose lobbies have helped promote pointless and massively wasteful wars in places such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. And I can assure you, many Global Geneva writers around the world know about pointless wars!

This also means ensuring that – as with most Europeans – every American citizen will finally have access to civilized health coverage, regardless whether as part of private or state-subsidized medical insurance, or a combination of the two. There are enough models to choose from, such as Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, Denmark etc. In the end, such basic – and humanly decent – protection will not only save lives but billions of dollars.

This is where properly-funded reporting in the public interest can make a difference. It is important to see how different societies around the world deal with similar issues with possible lessons-learned for others. We are currently developing various journalism initiatives which we hope will make this difference.

Reminding you of the 2020 Youth Writes Awards: Open to high school students worldwide

Plus, we would like to remind you of our 2020 Youth Writes Awards with three travel grants as prizes. This is a worldwide writing competition for high school students from Frankfurt and Mexico to Bangkok, Kabul and Nairobi with a focus on any aspect of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Or so-called “international Geneva” theme, such as humanitarian action, human rights, climate change, access to health…The list is rich and long. Please let students, parents and teachers know wherever they are in the world. And with more and more schools closing because of Coronavirus and kids going stir-crazy at home, perhaps now is the time to write.

With best regards, Ed Girardet, editor, and the Global Geneva team. Email:

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