Every year, Bill Gates puts out his annual list of the year’s best news on his blog GatesNotes.
It’s a nice feel good message, especially since 2015 also ushered in so many negative things, like the rise of extremist terrorist groups, the Paris attacks, the ongoing Syrian refugee crises, endless mass shootings in the US and so on.
So to get you in a happy, grateful mood for the holiday season, here’s one of the world’s most charitable person’s take on the best things that happened in 2015, in a Letterman-style list.
No. 6: “German measles” Rubella has been eliminated in the Americas.
This thanks to a 15-year effort to vaccinate people. Rubella is really dangerous for pregnant women, and can lead to death or severe birth defects.
“This milestone lends momentum not only to efforts to wipe out rubella around the world. It also gives a shot in the arm to efforts to eliminate measles, which is more deadly and more contagious than rubella, because the rubella and measles vaccines are often given in combination,” Gates said.
The Gates Foundation is trying to end measles, and has been developing more affordable vaccines.
No. 5: Mobile banking is huge hit and getting bigger in developing countries.
Gates has said that he believes mobile banking is one of the best things ever invented to help people lift themselves out of poverty.
“Today, more than two billion people have no access to financial services, severely limiting their ability to borrow, save, invest, and participate in the mainstream economy. But that is changing fast,” he writes.
For instance, 75% of adults have a mobile bank access in Kenya and huge strides are happening Brazil, Rwanda, Tanzania, Bangladesh, and India.
“When I’ve traveled in these countries, I’ve seen digital financial innovation that’s even outpacing what we see in rich countries,” he adds.
No. 4. SAT college prep studying is now free for everyone
In June, the company that created the SAT helped the online training site Khan Academy launch free online studying tools, filled with interactive lessons and videos, for the SAT or PSAT.
“I’m very excited about this development because of what it means for kids who can’t afford expensive test-prep classes and tutors,” he says.
No. 3 The Nobel Prize went to three researchers fighting diseases of the poor.
“On October 5, I woke up to the wonderful news that this year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine had been awarded to three researchers who developed indispensable tools for fighting diseases of the poor,” Gates writes.
Two of the researchers are working on curing parasitic worms and the other is trying to cure malaria. The invented “true miracle drugs,” Gates says.
No. 2: Neil deGrasse Tyson gives a brilliant 272 word defense of science.
“He makes the best argument I’ve ever heard for ensuring that science plays a big role in policymaking,” Gates writes. “Inspired by the short and eloquent Gettysburg Address, Dr. Tyson makes his case in just 272 words.”
And the No. 1 best news of 2015 is … Africa went a year without any new polio cases.
“On July 24, Nigeria marked one full year without a single new case of locally acquired polio, the crippling and sometimes fatal disease. It is the last country in Africa to stop transmission of wild polio,” Gates writes. “This milestone represents a huge victory—one that some experts feared would never come.”
It came about because of a huge effort, involving hundreds of thousands of people who mapped every village in the north of the country, counting all the children and delivering oral polio vaccine several times a year.
In 1988, polio was still running amok in 125 countries. Now, it’s endemic in only two, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Gates believes the day is coming when it is eradicated.