The year of 2017 was a tumultuous year for many. Great changes were made in many nations around the globe. And many people are unhappy with those changes. In America, a poll conducted in December found that 60% of respondents felt the country was on the wrong track.
Lots of Progress was Made in 2017
However, this disdain for the status quo is not unique to the United States of America. Another poll that included 26 countries, which are home to a considerable portion of the world’s population, found that 6 out of 10 people believed their country was on the wrong track.
Despite the pessimism for the future held by many, the world has made many significant strides toward a healthier, safer planet. As we ring in the New Year and make resolutions for 2018, let’s review some of the good news that did not often make headlines.
Perhaps a little bit of optimism and hope will help stimulate even more progress for this upcoming year.
1. Fewer Deaths from War
2017 seemed to be plagued with constant breaking news of another horrifying war tragedy.
Many of these deadly crises received a lot of attention because of their alarming nature. The crisis in Yemen, in which Saudi Arabia blockaded supplies and bombed noncombatants, has a civilian death toll of over 5,000 innocent people. Conflicts in Afghanistan and Nigeria still continue. And the devastating ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya in Myanmar has created a major refugee crisis.
Despite all of this, war deaths worldwide in 2017 are expected to be lower than in 2016 though the numbers are not entirely compiled yet.
This is because much progress was made in many different military fronts. ISIS was defeated militarily in Syria and Iraq. The Syrian war, which has been the deadliest conflict of this decade, had fewer deaths this year than in 2016. In 2016, the death toll of this war was at 50,000 while in 2017 it was lowered to 33,000.
An interesting statistic suggests that war is less deadly since the Cold War. Between 1946 and 1989, the average battle death per 100,000 people worldwide was 5.7 per year. Between 1990 and 2010, the average battle death per 100,000 people worldwide was 1 per year.
2. Decline in Famine
2017 appeared to be a horrible year in terms of famine. A famine that centered around South Sudan and spread throughout surrounding countries of the region created fear that the worst famine since World War II might unfold.
However, even though the famine caused a spike in deaths from malnutrition, strong and effective relief efforts in the region prevented a mass starvation.
The progress is even clearer when we take a look from a broader perspective. Worldwide deaths from famine during the past seven years have remained a fraction of the famine death toll in previous decades.
In fact, throughout this decade (2010-2016), the average risk of a dying to a famine is .006 (six one-thousandths) the risk that it was in 1960’s!
3. Progress in Ending Child Marriage
One organization that fights to end child marriage, Girls Not Brides, has recognized six specific signs that indicate progress is being made.
Firstly, in October, people in government, civil society, activists, and religious leader from West and Central Africa gathered at a conference entitled HLMWCA (High Level Meeting to End Child Marriage). This is significant since this area of the world has the high child marriages rates globally.
The conference built political momentum, consensus, and the beginnings of measurable action to end child marriage.
Additionally, according to Girls Not Brides, “For the first time, the Human Rights Council recognized the need to address child marriage in humanitarian contexts in a resolution led by the Netherlands and Sierra Leone, and co-sponsored by over 80 countries”.
Many countries developed strategies, action plans and initiatives to combat child marriage. And many countries actually improved their laws to ban child marriage.
For instance, in Malawi, child marriage was officially banned. The country amended its constitution to raise the age of marriage to 18 years. Similarly, Germany and The Netherlands raised the minimum age of marriage to 18 as well.
4. Improvements in the Fight Against Life Threatening Disease
The progress against pestilence continued in 2017!
According to the World Health Organization, vaccination rates continued to improve. Vaccination against diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus reached 86%–the highest level ever on record. Other new records were reached for vaccination coverage for measles, rotavirus, Hepatitis B, and others.
Because of this record-setting year for vaccinations, global infectious disease continues to see dramatic declines. The estimated death from measles was 550,000 in 2000, but then fell to 90,000 in 2016.
This year, New Zealand joined other countries like Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America in completely eliminating measles.
An even more drastic statistic illustrates the life saving effect of vaccines. In the 1980s, polio paralyzed approximately 350,000 children per year. In 2017, only 19 cases of the wild poliovirus were seen worldwide!
Moreover, there is genuine hope that there will be a global eradication of polio in the next few years! Plus, there’s hope that the debilitating Guinea worm disease will also be eliminated.
5. Fewer Deaths from Natural Disaster
Although tragic natural disasters did occur during 2017, such as Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, this year did provide an overall good year in the death rates from natural disasters when compared with other years.
According to the International Disaster Database, the first half of the year resulted in 3,162 deaths from natural disaster. This is a huge deviation from the average half-year death from 2007 to 2016, which accumulated to 61,367 deaths from natural disaster.
The second half of the year also resulted similarly low death toll due to natural disaster.
If you are one of the people within the majority of this country or many other countries that believes we are heading in the wrong direction, it is useful to look over the many accomplishes in progress the world has made.
Together, we can still make a positive impact on the world!