10 episodes

Health issues and medical breakthroughs from around the world.

Health Check BBC

    • Health & Fitness

Health issues and medical breakthroughs from around the world.

    Double threat of Covid-19 and flu

    Double threat of Covid-19 and flu

    There’s some progress of trials for potential Covid-19 vaccines – but doctors in the United States are also keen to avoid citizens getting infected with another virus: influenza. Manufacturers have been asked to make 10% more vaccines than last year because of a fear that a surge in coronavirus during the flu season could overwhelm hospitals. Dr Litjen Tan from the Immunization Action Coalition hopes that everyone will get the jab.

    Many thousands of people have lost loved ones during the Covid-19 pandemic. Talking about dying is never easy and people sometimes regret what they didn’t say. We hear from Janie Brown, a former nurse who now offers counselling to families affected by cancer, and has written a book Radical Acts of Love: how we find hope at the end of life, and from writer Audrey Nieswandt who looked after her mother when she was dying.

    Do you mind if people know if you’re online or not? Quite a few apps now indicate whether you’re online or even if you’ve seen a message. Is it rude not to reply straight away? Camille Cobb from Carnegie Mellon University wonders whether people realise just how much information they are giving away about us.

    Presenter: Claudia Hammond
    Producer: Paula McGrath

    (Picture: A nurse in Los Angeles with boxes of flu vaccine. (Photo credit: Lawrence K. Ho/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images.)

    • 34 min
    Faster cheaper Covid testing in Rwanda

    Faster cheaper Covid testing in Rwanda

    In lower income countries, shortages and costs of Covid-19 testing kits undermine the efforts to keep the virus under control. But Rwanda is now implementing a new form of pooled testing which can identify all infected individuals in a population without testing everyone, and it does so at tiny fraction of the cost. It was devised by Prof Wilfred Ndifon and Prof Leon Mutesa in Kigali.

    Taiwan has been one of the countries that has most effectively kept its population safe from the spread of Covid-19. Cindy Sui visits one of Taipei’s main hospitals to see the super-rigorous regime in place to protect its nurses from infection and prevent the spread of the virus from the hospital to the community.

    For the BBC’s Rethink season, sleep researcher Matthew Walker muses on how lockdowns have changed the sleep habits of many people.

    Boston University epidemiologist Matthew Fox is Claudia’s studio guest. They discuss why US public health researchers support both lockdowns and the Black Lives Matter protests, why meat-processing factories are the sites of notable Covid outbreaks, and new research which finds that women who suffer with migraines with aura have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

    Presenter: Claudia Hammond
    Producer: Andrew Luck-Baker

    (Picture: A health worker collects a sample from a man in Kenya during the Covid-19 crisis. Photo credit: Luis Tato/AFP/Getty Images.)

    • 27 min
    Covid-19: Steroid drug reduces deaths

    Covid-19: Steroid drug reduces deaths

    Some good news at last – A widely available drug can help save the lives of patients seriously ill with coronavirus. It cuts the risk of death by a third for patients on ventilators. Claudia Hammond discusses the results with Clare Wilson from the New Scientist.

    In the hunt for a treatment for Covid-19, health workers will take chloroquine as part of a large trial that is about to start. Claudia talks to Sinead Delany-Moretlwe, director of research at the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa.

    The surge of Covid-19 cases in huge cities like Mumbai has brought attention to a long-standing problem – the lack of sanitation and access to toilets. Health Check reporter Chhavi Sachdev reports.

    What effect does immobility have on our brains? A new study offers a detailed insight from 12 fit astronauts subjected to a battery of tests in a microgravity simulator. Ivana Rosenzweig, head of the Sleep and Brain Plasticity Centre at Kings College London explains how her work has important implications for understanding astronaut behaviour.

    Presenter: Claudia Hammond
    Producer: Caroline Steel

    (Photo: A female researcher testing a potential vaccine in a laboratory. Credit: Sam Thomas/Getty Images.)

    • 27 min
    Covid-19: Second waves

    Covid-19: Second waves

    South Korea and Japan both saw cases of Covid-19 rise again after they had fallen and Iran is experiencing a rise again now. Sometimes this is a referred to as a second wave or a second peak. Professor Carl Heneghan, Director of the Centre for Evidence-based Medicine at the University of Oxford explains the difference between second waves and peaks and how to reduce the chances of them happening as countries emerge from lockdown.

    The number of deaths from Covid-19 is forcing all of us to confront our own mortality and the mortality of those we love most. And for some people this is prompting the kind of discussions they might tend to avoid, and one of those people is our reporter in California, Alison van Diggelen, who has an elderly mother living in Scotland. Alison explores how we should all be talking more openly about death as more Americans are experiencing end of life care at home rather than in hospital.

    Viktor Frankl was one of the great Viennese psychotherapists. He survived time in four different Nazi concentration camps in World World War II and he wrote a bestselling book, Man's Search for Meaning, that uses those experiences. A collection of his lectures called Yes to Life in Spite of Everything has just been published in English for the first time. To find out more about the man and his work, and its relevance today, Claudia spoke to his grandson, film maker and psychotherapist Alex Vesely, and Alfried Laengle, once Frankl’s apprentice.

    James Gallagher, BBC Health Correspondent, discusses with Claudia research that estimates how many lives have been saved by countries locking down and why trials of hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19 have been halted.

    Presenter: Claudia Hammond
    Editor: Deborah Cohen

    (Image: Iranians wearing face masks in a metro station in Tehran. Photo credit: Stringer/AFP/Getty Images.)

    • 27 min
    Pain and the brain

    Pain and the brain

    Pain has long been recognized as something of an enigma by scientists and clinicians. It's both a measurable physiological process, as well as deeply personal and subjective. Claudia Hammond meets scientists attending a British Neuroscience Association symposium on pain and the brain.

    She talks to the so called "queen of pain", Professor Irene Tracey of Oxford University, about how research into acute and chronic pain is being addressed. We hear from Professor Ulrike Bingel about the positive and negative effects of expectation and anxiety on painful symptoms, and how this could be harnessed to enhance the power of drug treatments and reduce side effects.

    Professor Tamar Makin of University College London reveals some of the latest insights into the mysterious pain associated with missing limbs and wonders if we've been getting the thinking on phantom limb pain all wrong.

    And why are some kinds of pain - after exercising say, almost enjoyable? Professor Siri Leknes of Oslo University discusses the curious relationship between pain and pleasure.

    Presenter: Claudia Hammond
    Producer: Adrian Washbourne

    (Image: A mature man in pain. Photo credit: Cecilie Arcurs/Getty Images.)

    • 26 min
    The retired doctor who’d want to die at home if he got Covid-19

    The retired doctor who’d want to die at home if he got Covid-19

    We hear from a retired doctor in the UK who says he wouldn’t want to take up an intensive care bed if he got seriously ill with Covid-19. Breathing problems can result from the infection – especially in the elderly – so respirators are in demand. 69 year old Dr Lyn Jenkins is in good health – but wants critical care beds to be prioritised for young people and palliative care to be provided for anyone who wants to die at home.

    Studio guest Professor Matthew Fox from Boston University explains how Massachusetts is stepping up its contact tracing to try and limit further infections.

    More than three billion people around the world are now living under lockdown. In the UK many homeless people have been housed in hotels – but have limited access to healthcare and the medication which helps them to stay off street drugs. We hear how volunteers are bringing vital supplies to these vulnerable people.

    And we mark the long and productive life of the 108 year old “Father of Allergy” Dr William Frankland – who helped to popularise the pollen count, worked with the man who discovered penicillin Alexander Fleming and had his own brushes with death because of allergies.

    (Image: Nurse holding elderly woman's hands. Credit: Ocskaymark/Getty Images)

    Presenter: Claudia Hammond
    Producer: Paula McGrath

    • 26 min

Top Podcasts In Health & Fitness

Listeners Also Subscribed To

More by BBC