Smart ideas to save the world were showcased, Bangladesh eliminated a deadly disease, and scientists revealed how to slow ageing, plus more
This week’s good news roundup
It’s been “a year that has left so many feeling defeated. However, hope does remain.” So said Prince William this week as he announced the winners of the 2023 Earthshot Prize, a competition launched to scale up solutions to environmental problems.
Five pioneering eco innovators were awarded £1m each to develop their ideas at a star-studded event in Singapore on Tuesday.
They included a firm making batteries for electric vehicles using easier-to-recycle components, a community initiative protecting Andean forests, and a scheme helping farmers to cut food waste.
In a speech, Prince William said he believed that this decade marked the moment “we refused to accept the voices of denial and defeatism, and instead, became the architects of change towards a healthy and sustainable world.”
Image: The Prince and Princess of Wales arriving at the ceremony in 2021. Credit: The Earthshot Prize
More than a quarter of a million women in England could soon benefit from a drug shown to prevent breast cancer.
Anastrozole has been used for years to treat the disease. However, recent trials found that it can reduce the incidence of breast cancer by almost 50% in post-menopausal women at risk of the disease.
The drug was licensed in England on Tuesday, a move described by Cancer Research UK as “a welcome announcement”.
The charity said that because anastrozole is an older drug, it’s now off-patent. This means more than one company can produce it, which has driven down prices. A five-year course now costs around £0.04 a day, it added.
Image: National Cancer Institute
Immigration has been the subject of bitter political debate in the UK, and Brexit was seen as a vote to curb it. But a social attitudes survey paints a more positive picture.
The European Social Survey has sampled British attitudes every two years since 2001, conducting face-to-face interviews with around 1,150 people. Its latest poll suggests that views on immigration have undergone an “about-turn”, becoming more favourable since Brexit.
For the first time, a majority (59%) thought immigration was very positive for the UK economy, enriched the country’s cultural life (58%), and made the country a better place to live (56%). In 2002, the figures were 17%, 33% and 20% respectively.
In May, the Office for National Statistics posted record immigration figures for the UK. Home secretary Suella Braverman has since tried to make it an election issue. But that could be misguided, reckons the National Centre for Social Research, which oversaw the survey.
“People in Britain have become much more positive in their attitudes to immigration and on balance now see it in a positive light,” it said.
Image: Christian Battaglia
Most people probably haven’t heard of visceral leishmaniasis. But for impoverished communities in Bangladesh, this life-threatening disease is something that is all too familiar.
Not for much longer, perhaps. In what is being hailed as a “monumental achievement”, Bangladesh has become the first country to eliminate the disease as a public health problem, according to the World Health Organization.
Visceral leishmaniasis is caused by a parasite carried by infected sandflies and can prove fatal, particularly in communities with poor sanitation. A health programme to tackle the disease launched in 2005, involving early diagnosis, disease surveillance and improved treatment options. Those efforts have now paid off, potentially saving many lives.
Pregnant women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are to be offered free healthcare in a bid to cut the country’s high rates of maternal and neonatal deaths, the Guardian reported this week.
By the end of the year, women in 13 out of 26 regions will be entitled to free care during pregnancy and for a month after childbirth, as part of a World Bank-backed programme. Eventually, women and babies across the whole country will benefit, but there is no timetable for rolling out the service.
The development received a cautious welcome amid concerns that the DRC’s creaking health service will struggle to cope with an increase in demand.
Image: SHVETS production
Turtles, dolphins and humpback whales are among the species likely to benefit from the expansion of Congo’s Conkouati-Douli national park.
According to local media, a marine protected area encompassing 2,900sq km is set to be added to the reserve, as part of the government’s commitment to protect 30% of land and sea by 2030.
The area is rich in fish, mangroves and other marine life, but is currently plagued by illegal fishing.
Image: Jarek Tuszyński
The quest to slow ageing took another step forward this week as the American Heart Association (AHA) identified the habits that can arrest decline.
Getting at least seven hours sleep a night, doing 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week, eating a balanced diet full of vegetables, nuts and lean protein, and not smoking were the top tips. The AHA also recommended maintaining a healthy weight and keeping cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure in check.
According to a study, due to be presented at an AHA conference this week, following these habits may slow biological ageing by up to six years. The findings chime with a separate US study from earlier this year, which identified eight habits that can slow the ageing process.
Image: Jaddy Liu
It has one of the most ambitious timeframes in Europe for being carbon neutral.
And this week Portugal made strides to meet its 2045 deadline, by producing more renewable energy than it needed for 149 hours straight – a new record.
Portugal aims to generate 85% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and be carbon neutral by 2045 – five years earlier than most European nations.
Image: Red Zeppelin
The dark nights and worsening weather in the northern hemisphere force a retreat indoors this time of the year.
Want to learn something new in the months ahead? You’re in luck. This week Positive News picked out some of the best free online courses, covering everything from the science of happiness to cooking for your gut. Read more here.
Image: Chase Yi
Main image: LL28/iStock
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