Bill Gates is proud of what the world accomplished in 2014.
It was a rough year in many ways, but there’s good news to celebrate, too: We’re making progress on eradicating some of the world’s worst diseases. More children are surviving.
“These are some of the most fundamental ways to measure the world’s progress,” he writes on his blog.
Here’s some of the good news Bill Gates thinks you might have missed this year:
“The number of deaths of under 5-year-olds is falling faster than projected.” Not only did the child mortality rate fall this year for the 42nd year in the row, but it’s fallen faster than anyone expected. “To me, one of the best ways to measure progress is to look at how many children are dying of preventable causes,” Gates writes. “And today, more kids are living to see their fifth birthday than ever before.”
“We hit a big milestone in fighting AIDS.” Gates highlights new data released this month that shows the world’s finally reached the point where more people have started getting treatment for HIV than become infected with the virus. “Why does that matter? Because treating people not only keeps them alive, it also dramatically reduces the odds that they will pass the virus on to anyone else,” he says. “As the epidemiologists say, we can start to bend the curve of the disease.”
“Rotavirus vaccine is reaching more kids than ever.” Rotavirus, a diarrheal disease, used to kill hundreds of thousands of kids a year. That number has been cut nearly in half thanks to a cheap and effective vaccine, Gates writes. This year in India, for example, the government decided to start delivering the vaccine to poor children, for free.
“A tuberculosis breakthrough — finally.” TB is one of the world’s leading causes of death, but earlier this year, scientists announced a new treatment regimen that’s worked in early-phase research. This new treatment requires patients to take only 360 pills, instead of 14,000. If this treatment is proven in clinical trials, it could save poor countries billions of dollars in healthcare costs.
“Nigeria’s fight against polio helped its fight against Ebola.” Although Nigeria is one of only three countries where citizens still get polio. it reported only six cases this year, compared to more than 50 last year. Plus, Bill Gates writes, the infrastructure Nigeria built to fight polio made it easier for them to contain and deal with outbreaks of Ebola. Nigeria is now Ebola-free.