Cheer up: Despite the gloom, the world truly is becoming a better place. Indeed, 2017 is likely to be the best year in the history of humanity.

To explain why, let me start with a story. I’m on my annual win-a-trip journey with a university student, who this year is Aneri Pattani, a newly minted graduate of Northeastern University. One of the people we met is John Brimah, who caught leprosy as a boy.

At the age of 12, Brimah was banished by his village and forced to live in an isolated grass hut. His father would bring food and water once a day to a spot halfway between the village and the hut, and then pound a stick on the ground to let him know that it was there.

For a year and a half, he lived in complete isolation even as his leprosy worsened. Then a missionary from Ohio, Anthony Stevens, happened to pass by. “He heard me crying and investigated,” Brimah recalled. Stevens took him to a leprosy center where he received treatment, and Brimah has never seen his family since.

Brimah was cured, received a missionary education and became a nurse. Now he is in charge of the leprosy hospital here in Ganta, on the Liberia-Guinea border. He presides over men and women missing fingers, toes and sometimes feet, gnarled reminders of why leprosy has terrified people since biblical times.

Yet we are defeating leprosy. Worldwide, cases have dropped 97 percent since 1985, and it is now easily treatable. A global plan set 2020 as a target for no more children to become deformed by leprosy.

The progress against leprosy reflects the larger gains against poverty and disease — which I believe may be the most important trend in the world today. Certainly it’s the best news nobody knows about.

Read the rest of the story on The New York Times.