Episode 3 of The Upside aired on 17 May 2022 on 2BBB from 1400-1600. All stories featured this week are compendiums of good news and include:
2:30pm Global Health Successes
Our first upside story is a round-up of several extremely good developments in the field of global public health. I wasn’t aware of all of these, and I’m studying public health now, so I figured I would kick off this week’s series of stories by highlighting what’s been accomplished in the last year:
- Liberia introduced the typhoid conjugate vaccine, a first in Africa; this vaccine is safer, requires fewer doses than previous types, and is appropriate for children under 2 years.
- Ebola outbreak ended in DRC: the use of the ERVEBO vaccine, which was licensed last year, is credited in part with helping stop this outbreak. The WHO Regional Director for Africa described the holistic approach this outbreak demanded, “Stronger disease surveillance, community engagement, targeted vaccination and prompt response are making for more effective Ebola containment in the region. During this outbreak, the Democratic Republic of Congo was able to limit widespread infections and save lives. Crucial lessons are being learned and applied with every outbreak experience.”
- The first malaria vaccine was approved by the WHO. About half a million people die of malaria each year, so every tool to fight this disease is a reason to celebrate.
- A polio vaccine started to be rolled out to millions of susceptible children in Africa.
- And finally, the Global Roadmap to Defeat Meningitis by 2030 was launched at the end of last year by the WHO and partners, the first worldwide strategy aimed at reducing both cases and deaths from this terrible disease, which kills hundreds of thousands annually.
3pm Lands returned to traditional owners
Continuing this week’s compilation of upside stories, there have been several instances of lands being returned to their traditional or historic owners recently that I thought were worth mentioning.
First, close to home here in Australia, over 160 thousand hectares of land were returned to the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people, the traditional custodians of this country in far north Queensland that includes the Daintree National Park.
In Peru, a 2.5 million acre reserve was established for uncontacted peoples in the Amazon rainforest.
In Panama, the Naso people won a court victory giving them the rights to over 400 thousand acres of their traditional lands, which include some of the largest forests in the region.
Back in my home country of the USA, the National Bison Range reserve in Montana was returned to its Indigenous owners, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.
Also in the states, Pine Island in the state of Maine was bought back by the Passamaquoddy Tribe, who lost this ancestral land 160 years ago: “The tribe raised $355,000 in donations and their bid was funded by First Light, a group of ecologists in Maine, making it one of the most successful buy backs of land for any Native American tribe.” (Source)
3:30pm Tomorrow isn’t over
Our last upside story is a reading list recently published by the fine folks at Long Reads (longreads.com) called, “Tomorrow Isn’t Over: A Reading List About Brighter Futures.”
In the intro to the list, author Peter Hemminger discusses all the reasons we have to be worried, afraid, and angry today… and all the ways modern technology have of alerting us to thought-provoking analyses of the various means of impending doom we face.
He also, thankfully, goes on to list a series of reasons to not give up hope. As he writes, “The inspiration for a better future can come from countless sources, and as the pieces [in the list] will attest, whether our North Star is fixed in a firmament of scientific fact or utopian fiction isn’t what’s important.”
The reading list about brighter futures includes Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon on the “Clock of the Long Now,” a real world project to engineer a clock that would tell time for thousands of years from a Disney Imagineer (a real job title), profiles of scientists and inspiring sci-fi authors, ideas on better approaches to rubbish, conservation, and more.
This week’s Upside show featured new tracks from The Smile, Big Thief, Sir Chloe, Pokey LaFarge, Widowspeak, and IDLES. If you want to hear any of the music again, you can listen to the playlist on Spotify.