It’s Sunday night. All weekend I have been reading through articles trying to find the perfect quote or alarming statistic that will lead to a deeply impassioned posting about the injustice displayed by the unequal distribution of health in the world and believe me I found plenty, but that isn’t what I’m going to share with you. Instead, I’m going to share with you a story.
This afternoon I was in my kitchen compiling a list of infuriating statistics about how uneven health was distributed in the world while my sister and her friend were in the living room watching Sunday afternoon NFL football. I’m not sure whether it was my audible “humph”s or a commercial break that brought them into the kitchen, but regardless when they entered I saw it as my chance to release my anger and hit them with a whirlwind of numbers and percents that I found unacceptable.
After politely listening to my rant my sister’s friend, a computer software developer, asked if he could show me a software tool he was familiar with that might interest me. The tool actually showed the movement of life expectancy and fertility rates across regions of the world from 1980 to 2007 and I was so refreshed by the results that I felt obligated to share this finding instead. Spend a minute visiting the website below. When you get there click on the Display Bubble Widget option at the top and then hit the play button to watch the movement of the bubbles. If you double click on the colored regional bubbles then specific country bubbles will even appear and you can track their movements too.
At this point I’ve probably watched the same bubbles move a hundred times. Heck, I could probably even create my own flip book showing the same patterns of movement but I can’t help but be excited about what the trend shows. Sure, we still have more global health problems than we can imagine. And yes, the original statistics that alarmed me are still deeply upsetting. But the fact that life expectancy almost across the board is increasing is a trend that we should be excited by. The bubbles are moving in the right direction and we can see that something we are doing is making a difference. Now it is up to us, the next generation of advocates, researchers, policy makers and educators, to continue to do our best to push this trend even further in the right direction.