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Mercy Traveller: 2016 was a horrible year—or was it?

They are many good things about 2016 you may not have heard about. Did you know that the Public Health Agency of Canada was a key player in creating a vaccine against ebola? And that's just one example.

Welcome to 2017.

As we look in the rear-view mirror, many Canadians are more than happy to see the year 2016 zoom over the horizon and disappear. Last year has been maligned more than a carnivore at a vegetarian convention.

I get it.

Almost every commentator has extoled the lack of virtue in the past year, describing their sense of soul crushing calamities in politics and celebrity deaths around the world.

I am truly sorry if some bad things happened to you this past year. But it wasn’t all bad. In fact, some monumental achievements got buried in the negative headlines. These achievements have improved life for millions of people around the world, and Canadians can take some of the credit.

While malaria still affects more than 90 countries, the fight against this disease is making significant headway. Did you know that Sri Lanka was declared malaria free in 2016, after having no cases for three years? This infection, spread by mosquitoes, kills some 400,000 people annually, while inflicting suffering on 214 million people—often, children. However, according to the World Health Organization, overall malaria cases are down as a result of a variety of interventions.

Congratulations Sri Lanka—that’s one reason to celebrate 2016.

Since we are talking about health care, did you know that a vaccine has been created that trials show is 70 to 100 percent effective against ebola? And, did you know that the Public Health Agency of Canada was a key player in creating this vaccine? This is the first proven vaccine against ebola. We should fall on our knees and be thankful for this 2016 announcement.

Globally, child mortality was lower in 2016. Do you ever wonder if your donations to, CCF Canada, Plan, Save the Children, UNICEF, World Vision or other children’s charities in Canada make a difference? The statistics speak for themselves. Since 1990, child mortality has dropped by 47 percent. Although it is estimated that 29,000 children die monthly from preventable diseases, the numbers are significantly fewer than at any other time in history. Global Affairs Canada (formerly CIDA) is investing millions of dollars though a variety of charities to help children through it’s Child and Maternal Health programs. When we see these kinds of investments making the world a better place, that makes me feel good about my tax dollars at work. Thank you!

That’s just a taste of all the good from 2016. Many other great things took place as well. Given all these leaps forward, it turns out that the world is not in a freefall. Sure there were some political and ideological shoot outs this year, but it wasn’t all bad.

Thank you 2016. We look forward to great things in 2017.

Happy new year.