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Health issues and medical breakthroughs from around the world.

Health issues and medical breakthroughs from around the world.


London, United Kingdom




Health issues and medical breakthroughs from around the world.




How to make surgery safer

Ask 40,000 surgeons from around the world what they would pick to scientifically investigate and what do they choose? They voted for a new trial to establish whether changing to new surgical gloves and clean instruments just before abdominal wounds are closed up during surgery, would reduce infection. Thirteen thousand operations in seven countries later (in Benin, Ghana, India, Mexico, Nigeria, Rwanda and South Africa) the answer to the most common complication of surgery is in, and the...


Genetic disorders and US abortion bans

Ayoka from Atlanta, Georgia in the US is desperate to have a baby and her family is helping to pay for her IVF treatment. But Ayoka knows that she carries a serious genetic condition, Fragile X, which she does not want to pass on to her children. She tells Claudia Hammond what it means to know that she would be prevented from having an abortion, even if pre-natal testing revealed her unborn baby had the inherited condition. That is because the state of Georgia, up until yesterday when the...


Psychological nudges for HIV treatment

South Africa's anti-retroviral programme to treat HIV infection is the largest in the world with 5.5 million people in treatment. It’s transformed this disease from an automatic death sentence, to something that can be managed as a chronic illness and the government is determined to expand the programme and get more people with HIV in treatment. It’s an ambitious plan and Claudia Hammond hears how psychological tools called "nudges", drawn from behavioural economics, are being used and...


Livers that live longer than we do

Claudia Hammond discovers that some livers have the potential for extraordinary longevity and after a long life in a transplant donor, can survive for many more years in a transplant recipient. Livers over one hundred years old, called centurian livers by researchers, have been identified and many are still going strong. The new study has important implications for the future of liver transplants because donated organs from some older-age people were also found to last longer than those from...


Long Covid – the latest

Health-threatening fungal infections are on the rise and the World Health Organisation identifies the pathogens which pose the greatest risk to human health. Dr Graham Easton, family doctor and Professor of Medical Education at Queen Mary, University of London, tells Claudia how growing resistance to anti-fungal medication resistance, just like antibiotic resistance, is making the problem even worse. Graham also highlights growing health concerns about the recreational use of the drug...


Women and children’s health hit by disasters and Covid

After decades of progress – how can we stop the pandemic, climate change and conflict around the world from turning back the clock when it comes to women and children’s health? We hear from UNICEF’s Dr Jennifer Requejo about a new report which examines the impact of natural disasters, war and the pandemic and offers some ideas of how to catch up on targets for improvements. The BBC’s medical and science correspondent James Gallagher thinks he hasn’t had Covid-19 – and takes a blood test to...


Can a new star system help us to eat healthily?

If you’re trying to work out what’s healthy to eat and what to avoid – there’s a new five star rating system. Researchers in the US have looked at previous studies which examined how much certain foods increased the risk of developing a particular disease – or if they could even protect you. Dr Chris Murray from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Washington says he hopes the star ratings will help people to make informed decisions about their health. We hear from Dr Tammy...


'Historic' claims for new Alzheimer’s drug

There’s encouraging news about a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease following years of disappointing drug trials. The drug lecanemab is a monoclonal antibody which is designed to remove clumps of amyloid proteins which damage the brain. Professor Bart de Strooper who’s director of the UK Dementia Research Institute explains how patients who had regular infusions of the drug had their rate of cognitive decline reduced by 27% when compared to those given a placebo. Sewage testing has...

Floods spreading disease in Pakistan

Waterborne diseases are on the rise in Sindh province in Pakistan where water levels are still high after record floods. BBC Urdu’s Riaz Sohail visited the region and tells us about the conditions in roadside camps and a hospital in Dadu district. A recently published Motor Neuron Disease trial suggests that a new drug could make a fundamental difference for some people living with the disease. And how does healthcare work if a doctor can only be reached by boat, helicopter or plane? BBC’s...


Egypt’s hepatitis C success story

Egypt has almost eliminated the 'silent killer' hepatitis C – less than a decade after having the highest number of cases of the virus in the world. A new report from the World Economic Forum details how they managed to screen almost the whole adult population and treated those infected with the virus which can cause liver damage and even cancer. Professor Imam Waked from the National Liver Institute explains how other countries like Rwanda and Georgia are now following suit – but not quite...


Malaria vaccine effective

The trial of a malaria vaccine in Burkina Faso has revealed promising results, protecting young children from being infected by the parasite for a second season. Most malaria deaths are in children under five in sub-Saharan Africa. We hear from one of the research team Professor Katie Ewer, about how difficult it is to create a malaria vaccine. It’s hoped that the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer in Pune, India, will make enough of the vaccine to make it available to every child who...


China approves first inhaled Covid vaccine

China has approved the first nasal Covid vaccine inhaled up the nose. James Gallagher, BBC Health and Science correspondent explains how a sniffed vaccine primes the immune system. Plus Claudia hears about the health consequences of a ban on abortion in some US states for young women who develop a breast cancer diagnosis during pregnancy. Professor Virginia Borges and Assistant Professor Nicole Christian from the University of Colorado explain the difficult decisions women are having to...


Statins rarely cause muscle pain

Statins save lives by lowering the level of 'bad' cholesterol in our blood, reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes. But warnings about potential aches and pains in our muscles has put off some people from taking them. UK scientists have analysed the best statin trials and found that these side effects are actually rare – and the benefits outweigh the risks. We hear from Professor Colin Baigent in Oxford about how this study should reassure those who need to take them. On Health Check...


Deaths cut with recommended Ebola treatments

In the week that a case of Ebola has been confirmed in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the WHO calls for support to help at-risk countries to make lifesaving drugs available in case the virus spreads. The UK researchers who saved many thousands of lives with Covid treatments are now testing antivirals against monkeypox. And New Scientist's medical writer Clare Wilson explains how long Covid lingers in our bodies - and why thinking hard makes you tired. Presenter: Claudia Hammond Producer:...


Transplant hope as kidney blood groups swapped

A new Covid vaccine – which targets both the original virus and one of the latest Omicron variants – has been approved for use in the UK. About half of the 26 million older and vulnerable adults in the UK who are due a booster this autumn should get the new vaccine. There’s news of British scientists changing the blood group of donated kidneys – which could boost the supply of organs for transplant. Professor Magdi Yaqoob says switching to blood type O means the organs can be transplanted...


“Virtual” hospital visits cut relatives’ distress

In the pandemic when intensive care units were full and visitors were not allowed some families kept in touch using phones and tablets. A new study in the UK shows that this “virtual” visiting did help to reduce the distress felt by relatives – and the practice still continues to keep families in touch when they live far apart. Training relatives to give medicines at home to ease their loved ones’ symptoms at the end of life was pioneered in Australia. This week a specially-adapted version...


Can you be a kind boss?

In the cut throat world of work, can bosses be kind? Claudia Hammond unpicks the psychological evidence from around the world to find out if it’s possible for managers to be both kind all the time and successful. The quest starts with Thom Elliot Co-founder of Pizza Pilgrims in the UK, who deliberately set out to foster a kind culture in a sector not exactly known for its benevolence. They're joined for pizza by Prof Robin Banerjee, architect of the Kindness Test to discuss the findings and...


Pure kindness

What can the latest research tell us about whether there is any such thing as pure kindness? Claudia Hammond meets a man who has done an exceptionally altruistic act for someone who was seriously ill. What prompts acts of kindness like this? Specialists from the fields of psychology and neuroscience unpick the evidence. Producer: Geraldine Fitzgerald


Marburg virus cases confirmed

As Marburg virus cases are confirmed in Ghana, Dr Graham Easton discusses the importance of a swift response. BBC Africa correspondent Charles Mgbolu reports from Nigeria on the relationship between monkeypox emergence and smallpox eradication. Plus Claudia hears good news from Dr Jaekeun Park at the University of Maryland about progress on making a universal flu vaccine. Presenter: Claudia Hammond Producer: Erika Wright (Picture: Marburg virus, cut-away illustration. Photo credit: Roger...


New Covid booster recommendations

As Covid cases rise new recommendations from European health agencies back over 60s to get boosted. Professor Monica Lakhanpaul from University College London explains that this is before the rollout of updated vaccines to target specific variants. Monica also discusses her own research with village communities in India working to benefit infant nutrition. Also, with the numbers of teenagers experiencing mental health difficulties rising in many parts of the world some schools have turned to...