Prevention is better than the cure.

No, it is not an argument about the merits of late-70s goth bands, but a medieval wisdom that seems to get more apposite with every year.

Indeed, it is an idea that is not only relevant to human health, as the Upside team found out this week.

When it comes to terrorism, Kenya is discovering that preventing radicalisation is a far better option than trying to “cure” it, as Jason Burke reported.

With animal extinctions, of course, there is no cure, so it is prevention or nothing. New research has suggested a rather brutal way to forestall the extinction of about 10% of the world’s threatened species.


Save the albatross. Photograph: Peter Ryan/PA

Preventing climate change will likely be a much more effective strategy than trying to reverse it further down the line. There is much to be done. But at least some numbers are moving in the right direction, as per the latest data from the UK this week.


Contraception is arguably one of the biggest prevention programmes in the history of mankind, though it has of course been womankind that has largely shouldered the burden. But for how much longer?

And finally, when it comes to mental health, prevention is an essential part of the strategy. Fortunately there are a dizzying array of digital tools to help with this now. Ammar Kalia found out if they are any good.


Life coach chatbot

Ammar Kalia converses with his life coach chatbot. Photograph: The Guardian

What we liked

The CNN article about the Kenyan teacher who gives away 80% of his salary to the poor – and has now been rewarded with a $1m prize.

Also, this surprising Vox article about what happened when Ecuador legalised gangs. What do you think happened – did the murder rate go up or down?

What we heard

The mentoring program in Mombasa is an interesting approach. You might also want to know about the Friends Church Peace Team, led by Peter Serete, which works in areas of conflict to create cultures of cooperation and non-violence. I believe they have a Facebook presence.

Margaret Katranides, via email

On the article about mental health apps, a few things really stood out as things we see as well:

People love the anonymity.

You *CAN* help people through an app, but you are always limited

Any “unnatural” mistake in conversation feels very jarring to the end user.

It doesn’t have to be about treatment but can be about boosting *everyday* mental health (this is what we promote — be a little more content / a little happier, vs. “treat a disease”)

Mike Nolet from LiveBetter, via email

Where was the Upside?

In south London, where a fine piece of investigative reporting by my colleague Harriet Grant resulted in an egregious injustice – a ban on poor children using a playground – being overturned.

The south London playground where poor children are now welcome

Child’s play. Photograph: Graeme Robertson/The Guardian

Also at a digital seminar on how to do constructive journalism, produced by Giselle Green for the Thomson Reuters Foundation and available to watch here.

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