Vaccinators give the oral cholera vaccine to Rohingya  Paula Bronstein/Getty Images

A Year of Successes in Global Health

Progress on a number of human development indicators exceeded expectations in 2017, with global health benefiting from 18 major successes. Even in a mediocre year, eradication of numerous diseases, expansion of universal health care, and much more saved millions of lives.

BANGKOK – In the field of human development, the year that just ended was better than many predicted it would be. A decade after the Great Recession began, economic recovery continued in 2017, and progress was made on issues like poverty, education, and global warming.

But perhaps the most significant achievements of the last 12 months were in global health. I count 18 unique successes in 2017, many of which will help sow the seeds of progress for the months and years ahead.

The first notable success occurred early in the year, when a Guinness World Record was set for the most donations of medication made during a 24-hour period. On January 30, more than 207 million drug doses were donated to treat neglected tropical diseases including guinea-worm disease, leprosy, and trachoma. This extraordinary feat was made possible by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and by pharmaceutical firms including Bayer, Novartis, Pfizer, and my company, Sanofi Pasteur.

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