The Year, I mean, Decade In Review3 min read
I guess I drew the short straw. Here it is the last day of the year, and I have been tasked with writing the pivotal year-end post. Except that this year, it is the pivotal decade-ending post. I realize that today is not the last day of the first decade of the third millennium. As many others have pointed out, there was no year 0, so technically the year 2000 was the end of the second millennium, and we won’t complete the first decade of the third until the last day of 2010. I will, however, go with the flow and cave in to the lower standard that seems to prevail in the mainstream media.
This decade was marked by many changes. The Wall Street Journal’s article by Alan Murray titled “A 10-Year Dose of Reality” offered up a view focused on the economy and business with bubbles, scandals and global upheaval, but also highlighted that this decade saw the largest reduction in poverty ever, the emergence and growth of world-changing new technologies and the election of our first black president. He also threw in Susan Boyle for good measure.
Given that the Healthy Travel Blog has somewhat of a focus (I have been accused of trying to derail this sometimes), I will address the advances we have seen in medicine in this decade. I could also choose terrorism, travel security (somewhat in the news today), pandemics, climate change and natural disasters, but didn’t.
I am not going to reinvent the wheel when ABC News, in collaboration with MedPage Today, has already conducted a large survey and process to figure out the top 10 medical advances of the decade. Their authoritative list is:
- Human Genome Mapping
- Doctors and Patients Harness Information Technology
- Anti-Smoking Laws and Campaigns Reduce Public Smoking
- Heart Disease Deaths Drop by 40 Percent
- Stem Cell Research: Laboratory Breakthroughs and Some Clinical Advances
- Targeted Therapies for Cancer Expand With New Drugs
- Combination Drug Therapy Extends HIV Survival
- Minimally Invasive Techniques Revolutionize Surgery
- Study Finds Heart, Cancer Risk With Hormone Replacement Therapy
- Scientists Peer Into Mind With Functional MRI
Items 1, 2, 5, 6 and 10 seem mostly focused on the future. 3, 4, 7 and 8 are in full force now, and 9 is really a finding that past practices had big unknown risks. Number 7 stands out for me through a personal connection. My brother-in-law, an internist in Philadelphia, has told me how great the change has been in the United States for patients with HIV/AIDS. Instead of a ward filled with dying patients, he now treats patients with a chronic condition well-managed by a pharmaceutical cocktail. Outside of the U.S. the biggest advances have been in the reduction of transmission rates. New advances are being worked on with vaccines and gene therapy.
What do you think was the biggest advance in the last decade? How about the biggest challenge for the future? Let us know by leaving a comment, and we will follow up in more detail.
Here’s hoping that the next decade brings peace to the world and progress for all. Happy New Year!