Good News Break

Strange weather. The first snowfall hit while the leaves were still green, and this second one late in January. We could get buried before Spring gets here. The Occupation continues, not much noted in the ProJo, though the Boston Globe has covered the negotiations for a homeless day center. Until the ten-year plan to get housing for everyone is complete, people need to be able to get out of the cold and off the streets.

It’s still the dark of the year, and I need to write about some dark things, but first a little good news–

India is about to mark a year without polio…

India, which was once a major polio hotspot, has reported no new cases of the disease in just over 12 months, ever since a two-year old female case on 13th January, 2011, in the state of West Bengal. According to WHO (World Health Organization), India used to be known as the planet’s “epicenter” of polio.

WHO scientists say that as soon as all remaining lab investigations come back negative, India will be officially recognized as a nation that has stopped indigenous transmission of wild poliovirus, leaving just three countries with existing indigenous transmissions – Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan.

If you’re old enough to have a smallpox vaccine scar, or to have peers who got the worst of polio– paralysis and deafness– then you know what a blessing this is.

Good news in the US as well, homicide has dropped off the list of top 15 causes of death. And that’s not all…

—The infant mortality rate dropped to an all-time low of 6.14 deaths per 1,000 births in 2010. It was 6.39 the year before.

—U.S. life expectancy for a child born in 2010 was about 78 years and 8 months, up about a little more than one month from life expectancy for 2009.

—Heart disease and cancer remain the top killers, accounting for nearly half the nation’s more than 2.4 million deaths in 2010. But the death rates from them continued to decline.

Deaths rates for five other leading causes of death also dropped in 2010, including stroke, chronic lower respiratory diseases, accidents, flu/pneumonia and blood infections.

The American body politic needs a checkup and a gym membership– and we could knock these mortality figures down further. But at least we’re not killing each other off as much, and our infant mortality rate is decreasing. According to the CIA world factbook, In 2011 we were just about even with Croatia, just behind New Caledonia, Hungary and Cuba. Gotta call that progress.

That our country is making improvements in reducing mortality when our economy is such a mess is a sign of hope. Some good people in public health are doing their jobs right. Thanks, guys.

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