Wednesday, August 12, 2015

In Africa, a Year Without Polio

Great news from Africa, where it has been a year since the last official case of polio. Polio is not known to infect any species but humans, so we may be able to eradicate it completely. Which would be a major boon to humankind:
When the global polio eradication drive began in 1988, more than 350,000 children around the world were paralyzed by the virus each year. Last year, only 359 were.
Now polio only seems to survive in the mountains of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

People in America like to complain about the state of the world, but the truth is that the world is pretty well off at the moment. Yes, we've still got a very long way to go in pretty much every aspect of existence, but there are some really truly stunning facts floating around if you stop to think about them.

We've gone a record amount of time without a major war among great powers. We're completely eradicating diseases that historically killed and crippled many, many millions. We're living in perhaps the most tolerant period of history yet for minorities. Political enfranchisement is way up (even if voter turnout is still down in a number of places). Life expectancy is high, infant mortality is low. We produce enough food for everyone (even if getting it to the people who need it still faces serious obstacles).

Basically we've beaten back the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Pestilence and Famine are perhaps the closest to total submission, with War being somewhat sturdier and Death being perhaps invincible against us.

And yet, what before were looming symbols of catastrophe and the end of days are today mere shadows of their biblical forms. That's something to be proud of, and something to take hope from. Anyone who pines for the "glory days" of the past can get sent back to Iron Age Judea to die of starvation, sickness, and war, for all I care.