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50 years of good news for health

Words by Smiley Team

Over the past 50 years, our world has made significant strides in helping people live longer, healthier and happier lives.

Even with the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020, we can give thanks to the researchers, scientists, and professors who were able to create a vaccine and protect the lives of millions of people. 

Smiley's book – 50 Years of Good News – shares positive news from the past 50 years, including notable moments that improved the health of our global communities. Here's a snapshot of that positivity. 

1980: Smallpox Is Eradicated 

In announcing one of the greatest achievements in public health worldwide, the World Health Organization declared in 1980 that smallpox had been completely eradicated, three thousand years after it was discovered. The disease was stamped out thanks to the important work of vaccines and a global campaign. 

1987: Treatment for AIDS Is Discovered 

As the AIDS pandemic swept the globe in the 1980s, scientists worked hard to put an end to this mysterious immune disorder. In 1986, they discovered that AZT, an anti-cancer drug developed in 1964, could improve the survival rates of AIDS patients, and in 1987 the drug became the first one to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat the disease.

1992: Injured English Olympian Finishes Race with Help from His Dad 

When English runner Derek Redmond was halted by a hamstring injury during a 400-meter race at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, he tried to continue around the track with a limp. But to help him finish the race, his father leapt past security and supported his son as he hobbled toward the finish line.

2001: Portugal Changes Perspectives on Drugs 

Small changes in the legal system can have huge repercussions across society as seen when Portugal decriminalized the personal use, acquisition and possession of all drugs, abolishing prison time and transforming a criminal issue into a matter of public health.

2003: Movember Meme Begins Awareness Campaign for Men’s Health 

What began as a meme encouraging men not to shave their mustaches for the month of November grew into an annual event that raises awareness of men’s health issues, including prostate cancer, testicular cancer and suicide prevention, while also encouraging men to talk about long-stigmatized issues around their own well-being.

2006: (RED) Launches to Contribute to the Global Fund 

(RED) was founded in 2006 by U2 front man and activist Bono, together with Bobby Shriver of the One Campaign and DATA, with the idea to engage business and people in the fight to end AIDS. As red is the color of emergency, the founders chose the name as a signal that they are there to help defend vulnerable communities from the world’s biggest health crisis. In 2020, (RED) has shifted gear to fight the urgent threat of COVID.

2010: All Thirty-Three Chilean Miners Are Rescued 

When the main ramp of the San Jose gold and copper mine collapsed, it trapped thirty-three Chilean miners 2,300 feet underground. Immediate search rescues did not provide any results, but soon after, there was a note discovered written by the miners, stating that they were all safe. In a miraculous move, joint efforts from both the Chilean government and the U.S. government finally managed to safely rescue all miners sixty-nine days after the collapse.

2020: First Covid-19 Vaccine Administered 

Sandra Lindsay, a critical-care nurse in New York, became the first individual in the United States to receive the PfizerBioNTech Covid-19 vaccine. This provided everyone with a glimmer of hope in terms of combating the coronavirus pandemic. Her hospital scrubs, her vaccination card and the hospital ID she wore the day she received her dose were donated to the Smithsonian Museum of American History.

2020: One World: Together at Home Concert Raises $128 Million for Health-Care Workers

Global Citizen hosted its One World: Together at Home concert with the World Health Organization in support of the fight against Covid-19. The concert was curated by Lady Gaga and featured other celebrities, including Elton John and Celine Dion, to share the message that we are all connected at home even as we practice social distancing. In the end, a total of $128 million was raised for the WHO’s Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund.

2020: Wuhan Celebrates Return to Normalcy After Covid Outbreak 

Wuhan, the city that recorded the first outbreak of Covid-19, celebrated life returning to normal one year from when the virus was first detected. The city has also shut down all the temporary hospitals that were built in haste to house Covid-19 patients. Shops have reopened, and people are attending pool parties and enjoying the nightlife once more while still abiding by Covid-19 precautionary measures.

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