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Life is winning: Good global news to salute

2019-09-22

Sorry, Cassandra: Despite climate change and the persistence of war and poverty and famine, the world is getting far better in one of the most important ways, a triumph of economic development and public health that deserves widespread acclaim.

The very good news comes via the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which reported last week that 96 of 97 of the nations that account for the lion’s share of the planet’s child fatalities managed to save kids’ lives from 2000 to 2017. In 2000, some 10 million children did not live to celebrate a fifth birthday; the number has since fallen to a little over half that.

Why? Nations are investing in basic medical care, sanitation and more. Opportunity is spreading to previously underdeveloped corners of continents. In 1990, 36% of the world’s people were living on less than $2 a day; today, fewer than 10% are.

Nations, populations, ethnicities and sexes remain starkly unequal in dozens of ways. How far one goes in life remains predominantly, unacceptably determined by where one starts.

But millions more people are getting the chance to live and live healthily. Next time a dour-faced twentysomething tells you they can’t bear to bring a child into this world, tell them that.