One way in which all our lives are already better is that we have killed off some terrible diseases.
We have just had news that another of these, a form of polio, has been officially declared eradicated – it no longer exists and you cannot catch it.
Polio is dangerous particularly to children. Even in the richest countries, millions of children died or were left with problems walking by polio. Your grandparents probably know people who were damaged by polio and can remember how terrified people were of the disease.
When an American doctor called Jonas Salk developed a vaccine against polio 60 years ago, he tried it out on his three sons.
It worked and he was called a “miracle worker”.
Soon, in rich countries, all children were being vaccinated against polio. You may remember getting your own injections but may never have heard of this disease, which was once so frightening to your families.
But in poor countries, polio was still very common until 30 years ago.
Hunting down polio
Then all the countries in the world, gathered in the United Nations, agreed to try and get rid of polio from the world altogether – something they had already done with another once common disease, smallpox.
It took an enormous effort, by millions of people going out to find and vaccinate children in huge cities and remote villages.
But it worked.
When the campaign started, about 350,000 people a year, most of them children, were being infected with polio. Last year, it was less than 100.
Two down, one to go
The past few years have shown that it is incredibly difficult to track down and stop these last few cases.
The polio virus comes in three main forms, called Types 1, 2 and 3. Type 2 was declared dead four years ago.
Last month, it was confirmed that Type 3 was gone.