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Our 10 Most Popular Global Health And Development Stories Of 2017

Clockwise from top left: Bad selfie; "tree man" disease; Hadza man eating honeycomb; toilet from Amber, India; mothers from Namibia's Himba tribe and deer tick.
Clockwise from top left: Bad selfie; "tree man" disease; Hadza man eating honeycomb; toilet from Amber, India; mothers from Namibia's Himba tribe and deer tick.

I always get excited putting together Goats and Soda's list of most-read stories of the year. To me, it reveals a lot about how our audience feels about the world. What did you find surprising? Share-worthy? Illuminating?

You loved the stories that got you woke: how to ethically take selfies while volunteering abroad; how the Western media visually portrays women and girls in the developing world.

You were intrigued by rare health conditions, like uppgivenhetssyndrom, a coma-like state found in some refugee children in Sweden, and a disease that causes tree-like growths on the skin.

And you were curious about best practices from the developing world: Why are moms in Namibia such great breast-feeders? Why do the Hadza in Tanzania have such healthy diets?

From the 455 global health and development stories we posted on our blog in 2017, here are the top 10, ranked by pageviews.

1. Volunteering Abroad? Read This Before You Post That Selfie

A still from an instructional video about taking ethical selfies.
/ SAIH Norway/Screenshot by NPR

You may think it's a noble idea to photograph yourself helping poor children. A new campaign has a different perspective.

2. Forbidding Forecast For Lyme Disease In The Northeast

Blacklegged ticks — also called deer ticks — are tiny. This adult female is about the size of a sesame seed.
/ Stephen Reiss for NPR
Blacklegged ticks — also called deer ticks — are tiny. This adult female is about the size of a sesame seed.

Why has the tick-borne illness surged? The answer traces back to something that newly arrived Europeans did more than 200 years ago.

3. Rare Skin Disease Ruined Gaza Man's Life — Until Israeli Doctors Stepped In

The growths on Muhammad Taluli's hands were from a severe case of a rare condition called epidermodysplasia verruciformis — sometimes called "tree man" disease because the tumors can resemble wood or bark.
/ Hadassah
The growths on Muhammad Taluli's hands were from a severe case of a rare condition called epidermodysplasia verruciformis — sometimes called "tree man" disease because the tumors can resemble wood or bark.

He was in pain. He could not work. He was ashamed. He'd been told there was no treatment. Then he went to Hadassah Medical Center.

4. Secrets Of Breast-Feeding From Global Moms In The Know

(From left) Mothers from Namibia's Himba tribe; from Amber, India; and from Washington state.
/ Jose Luis Trisan/Getty; Hadynyah/Getty; Sarah Wolfe Photography/Getty
(From left) Mothers from Namibia's Himba tribe; from Amber, India; and from Washington state.

Many American women want to breast-feed — and try to. Only about half keep it up. It's as if they've lost the instinct. One researcher thinks she's figured out why.

5. In Sweden, Hundreds Of Refugee Children Gave Up On Life

Two refugee children who show the symptoms of <em>uppgivenhetssyndrom</em>, or resignation syndrome.
/ Magnus Wennman for The New Yorker
Two refugee children who show the symptoms of <em>uppgivenhetssyndrom</em>, or resignation syndrome.

An article in an April issue of the New Yorker described youngsters who fell into a coma-like state in reaction to the news that their family may be deported. We interview the author.

6. Triple Threat: New Pneumonia Is Drug-Resistant, Deadly And Contagious

A newly detected type of <em>Klebsiella pneumoniae</em> bacteria (in red) has acquired genes that make it more deadly.
/ Science Source
A newly detected type of <em>Klebsiella pneumoniae</em> bacteria (in red) has acquired genes that make it more deadly.

There are so many "superbugs" appearing in hospitals around the world that we here at Goats and Soda haven't had the time or resources to report on all of them. But a new type of pneumonia emerging in China seems so important that we dropped what we were doing to write about it.

7. PHOTOS: Peep At The Toilets Of 7 Families Around The World

This is likely a pit toilet. The idea is that there's a giant hole underneath the toilet. It's from Revben and Havenes Banda's home in a rural village in Malawi. They live with their five children and five grandchildren; their monthly income is $50.
/ Zoriah Miller for Dollar Street
This is likely a pit toilet. The idea is that there's a giant hole underneath the toilet. It's from Revben and Havenes Banda's home in a rural village in Malawi. They live with their five children and five grandchildren; their monthly income is $50.

These pictures show that toilets can come in all shapes and sizes. You'll never take your toilet for granted again.

8. Is The Secret To A Healthier Microbiome Hidden In The Hadza Diet?

Hadza man eating honeycomb and larvae from a beehive.
/ Matthieu Paley/National Geographic
Hadza man eating honeycomb and larvae from a beehive.

Some species of bacteria in our intestines are disappearing. Can we reverse the microbial die-off? The food eaten by Tanzania's Hadza tribe could hold the answer.

9. Outcry Over Photo Showing The Face Of A Girl Allegedly Being Raped

This is a screenshot of an online promotion by LensCulture for the Magnum 2017 photo competition, using photographs by Souvid Datta taken of girls in the red light district of Kolkata. The photo that was used has been blacked out.
/ LensCulture/Courtesy of DuckRabbit
This is a screenshot of an online promotion by LensCulture for the Magnum 2017 photo competition, using photographs by Souvid Datta taken of girls in the red light district of Kolkata. The photo that was used has been blacked out.

A firestorm has erupted over the ethics of using that image on Facebook to promote a photo contest — and the broader issue of how Western media depicts young women and girls in poor countries.

10. Beyond Lyme: New Tick-Borne Diseases On The Rise In U.S.

Jack Snow looks at a photo of his late wife, Lyn, on the wall of their home in Thomaston, Maine. Lyn Snow was bitten by a tick in late 2013 and died of Powassan, a tick-borne virus.
/ Brianna Soukup for NPR
Jack Snow looks at a photo of his late wife, Lyn, on the wall of their home in Thomaston, Maine. Lyn Snow was bitten by a tick in late 2013 and died of Powassan, a tick-borne virus.

The world is seeing more and more new diseases, and the U.S. is no exception. We're living in a hot spot for tick-borne diseases. Some are deadly. The key to stopping them may be an unlikely critter.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.