Health Check


Health issues and medical breakthroughs from around the world.


London, United Kingdom




Health issues and medical breakthroughs from around the world.




Back from the brink

This week we’re dedicating the programme to a common medical emergency – one that can be deadly within minutes without the right help to hand. A cardiac arrest is when the heart suddenly stops pumping blood around the body. We’ll hear from a doctor who battled for five hours to save a man 40,000ft up in the air; a student who’s teaching people not to be afraid to help in an emergency and we’ll hear a survivor’s story of life after cardiac arrest. Globally, there are tens of thousands of...


After the floods

Six months on from the worst flooding in Pakistan’s history, a medic in eastern Balochistan describes what he is seeing daily. Khalid Saleem, who works for the charity Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), says many people are still living in shelters at the side of the road and must walk miles if they need healthcare. There are high levels of malnutrition, malaria and skin conditions such as scabies. We also talk Professor Zainab Samad, from Aga Khan University in Islamabad,...


The ‘Endo-Monster inside me’

In this week’s episode we hear from two women who talk about what life is like with endometriosis, an incredibly common but debilitating condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows in other places in the body. Katherine from Ghana and Dee from Wales describe their long journeys to diagnosis and how the “invisible illness” affects every aspect of their lives, from mental health to work and relationships. We also hear from a researcher in the US who is studying the condition...


Family’s gene therapy journey

In this week’s episode of Health Check, we meet the Poulin family who live in Thailand. They tell us about their long quest to have their little girl Rylae-Ann diagnosed with an incredibly rare disease. And that’s just the beginning of the story. Rylae-Ann was fortunate enough to have gene therapy on a clinical trial in Taiwan – and it has transformed her life – but it’s not a treatment that’s available to everyone. Joining presenter Smitha Mundasad in the studio is family doctor Graham...



Claudia Hammond explores the psychology of regret with an audience at the Cheltenham Science Festival. What role do rueful thoughts on "what might have been" play in our lives? Is regret a wasted emotion or does it have some hidden benefits? Joining Claudia on stage : Teresa McCormack - Professor of Cognitive Development at the School of Psychology, Queen's University Belfast who researches how regret in childhood can shape our decisions; novelist and essayist Sophie White - whose latest...


Can you knit away your worries?

Many people say that knitting or crochet helped ease their anxiety during the Covid-19 lockdowns. Claire Anketell set up free Yarn for Mental Health courses in Northern Ireland last year and Gemma McAdam says crochet helped to reduce her stress levels and she's now making blankets. Esther Rutter's book This Golden Fleece: A Journey through Britain's Knitted History aims to unpick what textiles mean to us - including how they became part of the treatment for mental health problems. Learning a...


Biggest health stories of the year

It’s been another busy year on the BBC’s Health Check, where we’ve brought you the health and science stories that matter to you from around the globe, week in, week out. In this episode, Claudia Hammond is joined by Dr Ann Robinson to pick out some of the biggest breakthroughs of the year, from major advancements in gene therapy for two debilitating blood conditions, to a huge leap forward on treatment for dementia, and what looks like the conclusion of a long-running medical mystery....


Liver drug could be repurposed for Covid

We’ve grown used to hearing about potential new treatments for Covid-19 – well here’s another. Researchers in Britain have, by chance, discovered that a tablet used to treat liver disease for decades could be repurposed to stop Covid-19 in its tracks. The drug appears to shut a crucial ‘doorway’ the virus uses to get into our cells – and scientists are excited about its potential to tackle different variants and provide a low-cost weapon in the pandemic. We hear how researchers used a...


How words can save lives

Claudia meets Professor Elizabeth Stokoe author of 'Crisis Talk' whose research shows when preventing a suicide, that words really do matter and can save lives during a crisis. Through analysing real time recordings of actual conversations between people in crisis and police negotiators, new findings highlight what can work and what doesn't. (Picture: Vector illustration of two profiles of women with speech bubbles inside their heads. Photo credit: JakeOlimb/Getty Images.) Presenter: Claudia...


'Historic' turning point for Alzheimer's

After years of setbacks, the announcement of the first drug to slow the brain's decline in Alzheimer's is being hailed as "momentous". What makes this breakthrough different? To study the effect of the environment on our health, scientists sometimes have to look to the past. We hear from the author of a study which has uncovered how the worst recession in US history may leave an indelible mark on how well people age. Claudia Hammond’s guest this week James Gallagher, the BBC's health and...


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...