This year’s global health headlines certainly weren't dominated by positive stories — the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo headed into its second year and measles dominated the news cycle — but amid the doom and gloom were some truly significant wins in global health.
And as the year comes to an end, it's important to look back at what was accomplished in 2019, so we know what to push for in 2020 and beyond.
1. HIV Was Cured in the Second Human Ever.
The journal Nature published a case study in March about the “London patient” — the second person ever to be cured of HIV, thanks to a bone-marrow transplant that was meant to treat cancer (Hodgkin’s lymphoma).
2. The First-Ever Malaria Vaccine Program Just Launched in Malawi
Malaria kills more than 400,000 people every year, so it was big news when the first-of-its-kind pilot malaria vaccine program launched in Malawi, ahead of World Malaria Day in April. Since then, Ghana and Kenya have rolled out vaccine programs of their own.
3. Sri Lanka Officially Eliminated Measles
The resurgence of measles has made headlines around the world this year, but July saw a positive piece of news, too, when the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the country measles-free.
4. HIV Was Cured in Mice.
Scientists announced in July that they had successfully eliminated HIV in infected mice using a gene-editing technology called CRISPR and a slow-release virus suppression drug.
5. Nigeria Celebrated 3 Years Without Any New Wild Polio Cases
August marked three years since Nigeria last reported a case of wild poliovirus in its country. As the last country in Africa to record a case, this means that the African continent can apply to be certified as polio-free.
6. $14 Billion Was Pledged to the Global Fund
In October, pledges totaling $14 billion for the next three years for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria were announced by donors in Lyon, France, at the Global Fund’s replenishment conference. This is the largest amount ever raised for a multilateral health organization.
7. The World Officially Eradicated Another Strain of Polio
On World Polio Day in October, the WHO announced that wild poliovirus type 3 had been officially eradicated, meaning there is just one strain left to eradicate.
8. Johnson & Johnson Announced Human Testing of Their HIV Vaccine
On the Global Citizen stage this past September, Dr. Paul Stoffels, Johnson & Johnson’s chief scientific officer, announced that Johnson & Johnson would be starting the Mosaico Trial, the first study of its kind for their investigational HIV vaccine. The study will include men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender populations in San Francisco and other cities.
9. The Ebola Vaccine Was Officially Approved in Europe
The Ebola vaccine has been administered in the DRC in an effort to contain ongoing outbreaks, but until it was approved by the European Commission in November, it had been considered as experimental only.
10. $2.6 Billion Was Pledged to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative
Donors pledged more than $2.6 billion to the GPEI at the Reaching the Last Mile Forum in Abu Dhabi in November. These funds will help the GPEI reach its goal of vaccinating 450 million children every year.