What is the most significant thing that you’ve heard on the news or read in popular media or social circles in the past, let’s say, 2 months? Think about it. I can just about guarantee that it will not be nearly as important as what you are about to read.
Last month, Bono stepped out onto the Long Beach TED conference stage to present some eye-opening data on the continuing struggle towards improving the global standard of living and eliminating social injustice worldwide (scroll down for the full video).
As most readers will know, HIV weakens the immune system by destroying cells that fight disease and infection. HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is one of the world’s most serious health and development challenges.
Around 34 million people are currently living with HIV/AIDS, and over 25 million people have died of AIDS worldwide since the first cases were reported in 1981.
However, since the year 2000 there are now 8 million more AIDS patients receiving antiretroviral therapy. Antiretroviral drugs maximally suppress the HIV virus and stop the progression of HIV disease. This results in huge reductions in death rates and suffering.
According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) estimates from the World Malaria Report 2012, there were about 219 million cases of malaria in 2010 and an estimated 660,000 deaths. Africa is the most affected continent, with around 90% of all malaria deaths occurring there.
However, since the year 2000 there are 8 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa that have had their Malaria death rates reduced by 75%.
Child Mortality Rates
Compared to the year 2000, regarding children under the age of 5, child mortality rates have decreased by a staggering 2.65 million per year. If you do a quick calculation, that will tell you that there are over 7,256 children’s lives being saved each and every day.
In the words of Bono: “Have you read anything, anywhere in the last week that is remotely as important as that number?…It drives me nuts that most people don’t seem to know this news.”
The number of people living in extreme poverty has declined. From 1990-2000, the decline was from 43% – 33% of the world’s population. Extreme poverty is defined as people living on less than $1.25 per day (adjusted for inflation).
Then from 2000-2010 this decreased again from 33% – 21% of the world’s population. According to these statistics, extreme poverty has been halved.
As Bono rightly asserted, “We must believe that we can eliminate poverty”.
People need to be aware of these statistics. Far too many people are pessimistic because they think that the world has always had these problems, continues to have these problems, and that things will always be the same way.
If the general populace knew about the dramatic difference that a respectively small group of committed citizens has made to our world over the last 20 years, then perhaps more individuals would commit themselves to being part of the force for change.
Thus, the ultimate question really becomes, what are you doing to contribute to this change?
Photo credit: TED