Good News on Trachoma in Benin and Mali, Deforestation in Brazil, and River Restoration in Paris

Plus, the elimination of elephantiasis in Bangladesh, good news on women's rights in China, homicide in the United States, conservation in Costa Rica, and platypus re-wilding in Australia

Good News on Trachoma in Benin and Mali, Deforestation in Brazil, and River Restoration in Paris
Credit: Time

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Good news you probably didn't hear about

Bangladesh has just pulled off one of the most successful disease elimination efforts of all time. In 2001, lymphatic filariasis, a crippling and disfiguring neglected tropical disease, was endemic in 19 of the country's 64 districts, with an estimated 70 million people at risk. Earlier this week, the WHO confirmed that the disease has been completely eliminated.

Good news on malaria–Ghana has reduced its prevalence in children by more than a third in the last eight years, from 26.7% in 2014 to 8.6% in 2022, and health officials in India are reporting an 85.1% decline in malaria cases and an 83.36% decline in deaths between 2015 and 2022.

"While it may feel like the world is crumbling into a war-torn, authoritarian shit show ravaged by rising temperatures and politicians who stand idly by, we can take solace in knowing that we’ve become better at preventing suicides." Specifically, did you know that in the past two decades, global suicide prevention efforts have reduced deaths by a third? Wired

Nepal has achieved remarkable progress in healthcare in recent decades, thanks in large part to its 51,000 female community health volunteers. Between 1996 and 2022, maternal and child mortality fell by half, contraceptive use rose from 26% to 43%, the prevalence of childhood stunting more than halved, and the percentage of fully vaccinated children doubled. My Republica

FCHVs in Nepal

Benin and Mali have eliminated trachoma as a public health problem, the fifth and sixth countries in Africa to achieve this significant milestone. The number of people requiring antibiotic treatment for trachoma in the WHO African Region has fallen from 189 million in 2014 to 105 million as of June 2022. WHO

Some news from China, courtesy of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights at the United Nations.

  • The maternal mortality rate declined from 18.3 per 100,000 in 2018 to 15.7 in 2022, and 44.16 million rural women have been brought out of poverty during this period.
  • 180 million cervical cancer screenings and nearly 100 million breast cancer screenings have been provided free of charge for rural women and women with low incomes.
  • The primary-school enrollment rate for girls has been over 99% since 2015, more than 50% of female students with disabilities attend ordinary school, and female students now outnumber male students in secondary, undergraduate and postgraduate studies.
  • Between 2013 and 2022, 18,000 cases of trafficking in women and children were solved, and cases in the past ten years have been reduced by 86.2%.
  • China has now put in place a complete legal system comprised of over 100 laws and regulations which protect women’s rights and interests.

Two wins for LGBTQI rights. Taiwan just amended its laws to allow same-sex couples to adopt children they are not biologically related to, and Namibia's Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex marriages conducted outside the country must be recognised by the government, expanding the interpretation of the term 'spouse' in its immigration laws.

A banner reading 'guaranteeing love that transcends blood relations' is held by legislators after the amendment passed its third reading on Tuesday, 16 May 2023.

Lula just signed a law guaranteeing a substantial increase in nursing salaries. $7.3 billion has been budgeted to ensure that the country's 2.8 million nurses and midwives receive fair compensation. 'The approval of this law is the result of more than 30 years of struggle by healthcare workers’ organisations.' Agencia Brasil

Two new laws in the United States have given mothers a long-awaited victory. These laws, the PUMP Act and the PWFA, change the health and economic trajectory for at least nine million women and their families, providing greater economic security and workplace rights and protecting them against discrimination. NPR

Murder rates in the United States are down by 12.5% in the 75 cities with available data for 2023 so far. It's still pretty early, but this suggests we are going to see a significant drop this year. Overall, American cities are far safer and less violent today than they were two years ago. But, of course, everyone knows this already because it's been so extensively covered by American media. VOA

Crime continues to plummet in the United Kingdom. The number of offenses in 2022 fell by 12% compared to the year leading up the pandemic, with dramatic declines in homicide, robberies, and knife crime. But, of course, everyone knows this already because it's been so extensively covered by British media. ONS

Source: Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) from the Office for National Statistics

The only home we've ever known

Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon rainforest fell 68% in April compared to last year, the first monthly drop under the watch of Lula, and an indication that after a slow start, efforts are starting to pay off. Land clearing is down 40% this year so far–news that comes off the back of the recent ban on mining and commercial farming on 620,000 hectares of Indigenous reserves. Reuters

Forest guardians across the Amazon are finding increasing success in protecting their lands from deforestation and mining, using drones, camera traps, georeferencing and solar panels. 'While technological tools have been helpful, the real defenders of the environment are the Indigenous communities themselves.' RTBC

Have you heard of the Loess Plateau? It's one of the greatest regeneration stories of all time. In 1994, China and the World Bank got together to restore nearly four million acres of over-grazed, over-harvested lands in north-central China. In less than 20 years, it was transformed into green valleys and productive farmland, and it is now greener and wetter than at any other point in the last two centuries.

The Loess plateau in China, in 2007 (left), and transformed into green valleys and productive farmland in 2019. Rex/Shutterstock/Xinhua/Alamy

The Osa Peninsula on Costa Rica’s west coast occupies just 0.001% of the planet’s surface area, yet it is home to an estimated 2.5% of all the biodiversity in the world. Local communities are now being paid to conserve it, using money that is 92% funded from a sales tax on fossil fuels. Regenerative. RTBC

Lawmakers in the Caribbean island of Aruba have taken the first steps toward amending its constitution to include a recognition that nature possesses inherent legal rights to exist and regenerate. If the process is successful, Aruba will become the world’s second country, after Ecuador, to constitutionally recognize the rights of nature. ICN

After nearly a year of wrestling over the fate of their water supply, California, Arizona and Nevada have coalesced around a plan to conserve a major portion of their water from the Colorado River in exchange for more than $1 billion in federal funds. 'The enemy is not any organization, agency or part of the basin. The enemy is the old way.' WaPo

Paris is getting close to the end of a $1.5-billion-dollar effort to clean up the Seine, meaning people will be able to swim in it again for the first time in a century; in London, 40 different restoration projects are bringing buried rivers to light and re-wilding many of the city's waterways; and in Washington, the Potomac is about to become safe for swimming again, too.

Firs Farm Wetlands, in North London, stores 30,000 cubic metres of flood water, helping to protect local properties from flooding.

In 2021, the US Environmental Protection Agency implemented a new set of rules on lead and copper in drinking water. A study has now revealed that the regulations cost $335 million a year to implement while generating $9 billion in health benefits annually. 'We thought the benefits might exceed costs by an order of magnitude, but they were many times that.' Harvard

Malaysia, one of the ten biggest plastic polluters in the world, is ramping up its campaign to ban the use of all plastic bags. After starting with fixed business locations like supermarkets and shops, the ban will now expand to roadside stalls, and by 2025, will be extended to all physical outlets in the country. Straits Times

Australia's largest supermarket, Coles, will stop selling soft-plastic shopping bags by the end of next month, a move that will remove 230 million plastic bags from circulation in the space of a year. Guardian

The platypus has been reintroduced into Australia's oldest national park after disappearing from it in the 1970s. Last week, wildlife officials released four females inside the Royal National Park south of Sydney and plan to introduce two more females and four males in the near future. Smithsonian

We are all done here, thanks for reading! We'll see you twice next week, once for the Humankind article, and then again for the standard newsletter.

With love,


Future Crunch

Future Crunch

We're a team of science communicators. Our mission is to foster intelligent, optimistic thinking about the future, and create a 21st century that works for people and the planet.

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