Health Check



Health Check grapples with health issues on a global scale, investigates discoveries and solutions in healthcare, and looks at how to deliver a healthier world. Presented by Claudia Hammond.


  • How we hope

    10/04/2024 Duração: 26min

    Claudia Hammond presents a special edition of Health Check from the Northern Ireland Science Festival, where she’s joined by a panel of experts to discuss the psychology of hope.With a live audience in Belfast’s Metropolitan Arts Centre, Claudia speaks to Dr Karen Kirby, senior lecturer in psychology at the University of Ulster; Dr Kevin Mitchell, associate professor of genetics and neuroscience at Trinity College Dublin; and author Sinéad Moriarty.Topics include the role of hope in medical scenarios, if we can learn to be hopeful, and how we can hold onto hope in the modern world. We also hear questions from our audience, including whether or not we should all just lower our expectations.Presenter: Claudia Hammond Producer: Dan Welsh

  • Puerto Rico declares dengue fever emergency

    03/04/2024 Duração: 26min

    As the recent surge in cases of dengue fever continues across Latin America and the Caribbean, Puerto Rico declares a public health emergency. Claudia Hammond is joined by Professor of Global Health and Epidemiology at Boston University, Matt Fox, to hear how warmer temperatures have lead to outbreaks of the mosquito-borne disease around the world, with millions of cases reported so far this year.We speak to the artist Jason Wilsher-Mills at his latest exhibition inspired by his childhood experiences of disability, and hear the role it played in his journey into the arts.Claudia and Matt discuss the spread of mpox in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with cases reported in all but 3 of the country’s 26 provinces.We hear from Uganda about the project hoping to help provide essential equipment for safe anaesthesia in children’s surgery. And the study that says just two nights of broken sleep are enough to make us feel years older.Presenter: Claudia Hammond Producer: Dan Welsh

  • Pig kidney transplanted into patient

    27/03/2024 Duração: 27min

    The latest on the first procedure to transplant a kidney from a pig into a living patient. Claudia Hammond is joined in the studio by Dr Graham Easton to hear how the organ was genetically modified to reduce the risk of it being rejected following a four hour surgery in Massachusetts in the US. We also hear about the data that’s linked working outdoors in sunlight to non-melanoma skin cancer. The report from the World Health Organisation and the International Labour Organization says one in three deaths from this type of skin cancer is caused by ultraviolet radiation from outdoor work. Claudia and Graham also discuss new research from India that’s found working in extreme heat can double the risk of stillbirth and miscarriage for pregnant women. It’s also calling for more advice for working pregnant women around the world. We go to Cameroon to hear about the medicines being sold to passengers on buses, despite there being no evidence they actually work. And we hear how some reporting over claims that intermit

  • Should we stop talking about long COVID?

    20/03/2024 Duração: 27min

    Most people with COVID-19 make a full recovery within 12 weeks, but some patients have experienced ongoing symptoms for much longer. This has become known as ‘long COVID’. However, new research suggests that the rates of ongoing symptoms and functional impairment after COVID are indistinguishable from other post-viral illnesses, and that long COVID may have appeared to be a distinct and severe illness because of high volumes of COVID-19 cases during the pandemic. Presenter Claudia Hammond is joined in the studio by BBC Health reporter Philippa Roxby to discuss the findings. If long COVID is not unique, could this new spotlight encourage research that would help sufferers of other post-viral conditions? The use of heart pacemakers have become a standard procedure in many countries. Pacemakers are small electrical devices implanted in the chest that send electrical pulses to the heart to keep it beating regularly and not too slowly. The devices can be lifesaving for some people. But devices can malfunction, th

  • A promising new cancer treatment

    13/03/2024 Duração: 26min

    The toxic mineral asbestos is still mined across the world, despite it’s much documented links to cancer. Now there are promising results from a new global study into one of the most aggressive types of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Also on the programme, we receive an exciting update from Mike, who has gotten a long-awaited kidney transplant, and we discuss new treatment protocols for Hepatitis B and how they could better serve people in southern and eastern Africa.

  • One billion obese people

    06/03/2024 Duração: 26min

    More than one billion people in the world are now living with obesity. The number of people who are underweight has also fallen according to a new global study, but this does not necessarily mean that people are better fed. In some countries insufficient food has been replaced by food that does not contain the nutrition that people need, with obesity now the most common form of malnutrition in many places. Claudia Hammond talks to study author Professor Majid Ezzati about the results and what can be done to halt the trend of increasing global obesity.Research has shown that sleep deprivation can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, while regularly eating fruit and vegetables can reduce the risk. Yet it wasn’t known whether a healthy diet could compensate for a lack of sleep. Now, researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden have discovered that people who eat healthily but sleep for less than six hours a day are still at higher risk of type 2 diabetes. GP Dr Ayan Panja joins Claudia in the studio t

  • Junior doctors strike in South Korea

    28/02/2024 Duração: 26min

    More than 1,600 junior doctors have been on strike in South Korea in a dispute about working conditions and Government plans to add more medical school placements. BBC health reporter Smitha Mundasad joins Claudia Hammond to explain the latest. Smitha also brings Claudia new research about the first ever prehistoric case of a child with genetic condition Edwards’ syndrome. And some innovative solutions to get blood to so called ‘blood deserts’; large rural areas where there is no access to blood transfusion. Claudia and Smitha also hear how one American woman Lynn Cole’s fight with serious blood infection helped scientists understand more about phage therapy. Lynn died in 2022, but Claudia speaks to her daughter Mya. Health Check also continues to follow British journalist Mike Powell as he prepares for a kidney transplant operation. This week he is in conversation with Justin Pham in Los Angeles, who also has kidney failure and has been on dialysis since last year.Presenter: Claudia Hammond Producer: Clare S

  • Global Trade vs Health Equality

    21/02/2024 Duração: 26min

    Research shows that large numbers of Covid deaths could have been prevented if people in low and middle income countries had better access to vaccines. But this week the World Trade Organisation said it could not reach a consensus on waiving intellectual property rights on Covid-19 tests and treatments for poorer countries. Claudia Hammond is joined by BBC Africa Health Correspondent Dorcas Wangira in Nairobi, to discuss the impact of vaccine inequity on her part of the world.Dorcas also brings news of a new Ebola study showing that even people vaccinated once they were already infected with Ebola had a substantially lower risk of dying. It suggests that not only does the vaccine help prevent Ebola, it also improves the survival odds of people who have already contracted it.Oral Rehydration Salts are a lifesaving and inexpensive treatment for diarrhoeal disease, a leading cause of death for children around the world. It’s cheap, effective and has been recommended by the World Health Organization for decades -

  • Dengue outbreak in Latin America

    14/02/2024 Duração: 26min

    Carnival hits the streets in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil this week. As well as preparations for the crowds and colourful processions, health authorities have also been putting in extra measures to try to contain a huge outbreak of dengue fever. Last week a health emergency was declared in the city. And as Claudia hears from Peruvian health journalist Fabiola Torres, cases are rising to levels not seen for decades across the whole of Latin America. Consultant in public health Dr Ike Anya is in the Health Check studio to take a deeper look at Dengue. He also brings news from Alaska, USA where an elderly man has become the first person to die from Alaskapox, a viral disease more commonly found in small animals like shrews and voles. And could new UK research on 50,000 people’s blood, help us get one step closer to a predictive blood test for Alzheimer’s disease?Claudia and Ike hear from British journalist Mike Powell who has serious kidney failure. Last week Mike’s kidney transplant operation had to be cancelled due

  • Getting vaccinations to remote South Sudan

    07/02/2024 Duração: 26min

    The hospital in Old Fangak, South Sudan is extremely remote; it’s a place that can only be accessed by boat, using the river Nile. The airstrip has been flooded for the past four years – flooding that has also destroyed crops and drowned cattle. Since April 2023, 501 cases of hepatitis E have been treated at the hospital, and 21 people – mainly women – have died. Now, doctors have launched a vaccination campaign that targets women and girls in communities that are up to eight hours by canoe from the nearest healthcare facility. Matt Fox, Professor of Global Health Epidemiology at Boston University, tells Claudia Hammond about the challenge of distributing vaccinations in such a challenging environment.Matt also brings news of a study that suggests that up to 10% of patients diagnosed with dementia might actually have cirrhosis of the liver. Cirrhosis can cause cognitive impairment with a very similar presentation to dementia but, crucially, it’s reversible. A study of military veterans in the USA indicates th

  • Surviving Noma Disease

    31/01/2024 Duração: 27min

    There are neglected tropical diseases, and then there is Noma; A severe gangrenous disease which tends to affect 2 to 6-year-olds and has a 90% fatality rate. Its quick onset means that often children die before they can get medical attention and it is thought that many medical professionals don’t even get taught about early symptoms. Claudia meets Fidel Strub, originally from Burkina Faso who survived Noma to ask about the impact on his life. This week the first meeting of an international group of researchers working to improve awareness and treatment of the disease is taking place. South African epidemiologist Dr Elise Farley explains why more research is desperately needed. Family doctor Dr Ann Robinson brings promising news for treatment of another tropical disease, Nipah virus. The first-in-human vaccine trial has begun in the UK. And new research into the effectiveness of testosterone treatment in men.Journalist Mike Powell updates Health Check as he continues his journey to kidney transplant. And a ch

  • Cape Verde Eliminates Malaria

    24/01/2024 Duração: 26min

    It’s been another ‘milestone week’ for the fight against malaria. The archipelago island nation Cape Verde became the third country in Africa to officially eliminate the disease. Meanwhile in Cameroon, a ‘world first’ routine malaria vaccination programme has begun. A little girl called Daniella received the first vaccine in a clinic near capital city Yaoundé on Monday. BBC health reporter Philippa Roxby joins Claudia Hammond in the studio to gauge what progress we’re making against a disease which kills 600 thousand people in Africa every year.Philippa also brings brand new research from the US that shows how air pollution, particularly from forest fires, can cause more people to suffer with eczema. Figures from one study suggest that dermatology visits rose eightfold in Boston in August 2023 compared to the same period a year earlier, while wild fires raged in Canada.Mike Powell leaves an audio update on the latest in his journey to having a kidney transplant. David Mataix-Cols, Professor of Child and Adole

  • Endurance

    17/01/2024 Duração: 26min

    Have you ever considered rowing across the Atlantic? How about making it even more challenging by doing it whilst wearing an ECG monitor and filling in psychological questionnaires? Claudia Hammond speaks to the first Austrian woman to row the Atlantic, Ciara Burns, who collected data throughout her 42-day crossing. And to the professor who studied the data, Eugenijus Kaniusas from the Vienna University of Technology, about the three big dips in mood along the way. Ciara talks about the emotional highs and lows of rowing to America, about the night skies, meeting whales, and how it feels when the Atlantic comes crashing down on you. Sports psychologist Peter Olusoga from Sheffield Hallam University, discusses the mental challenges and dealing with emotions during an adventure like Ciara's.Claudia also speaks to Dr Nick Tiller, ultramarathon runner and exercise scientist at Harbor-UCLA, about the physical benefits and costs of taking part in ultra-endurance sports. Nick has run 100-mile races as well as runnin

  • Are outcomes better with female surgeons?

    10/01/2024 Duração: 26min

    A recent study from Canada has found that patients treated by female surgeons have a lower likelihood of adverse postoperative outcomes (death, hospital readmission or major complications) at 90 days and one year following surgery. The same research team also found in another recent study that there are lower 30-day, 90-day and 1-year post-surgery health care costs for patients treated by female surgeons compared with those treated by male surgeons. Claudia Hammond discusses these findings with two of the researchers from the University of Toronto, Dr. Chris Wallis and Dr. Angela Jerath.Claudia is joined by medical journalist Clare Wilson from New Scientist to discuss deaths related to hydroxychloroquine, which was prescribed in hospitalised patients with Covid-19 in many countries despite of the low-level evidence.We also hear how the re-imagining of cult American TV series, Sesame Street, can improve the health of Syrian children living as refugees in Jordan.Claudia and Clare also discuss a study which sugg

  • 2024 in global health

    03/01/2024 Duração: 26min

    A treaty to help the world cope with the next pandemic, new ways to treat undernutrition and a last goodbye to polio. Could these be some of the health advances that 2024 will bring? Claudia asks global health journalist Andrew Green for his predictions. Monica Lakhanpaul, professor of integrated community child health at University College London joins Claudia in the studio to discuss new evidence showing that a vaccination for winter virus RSV could cut hospital admissions in children by more than 80%.And a mobile phone app which has been used to screen people’s coughs in Kenya for signs of TB.Plus Claudia speaks to British journalist Mike Powell who was diagnosed a year ago with kidney failure as he prepares for transplant.Presenter: Claudia Hammond Producer: Clare Salisbury Assistant Producer: Jonathan Blackwell Editor: Holly Squire

  • A Year in Health in Review

    27/12/2023 Duração: 26min

    As 2024 draws ever closer, Claudia Hammond looks back at the medical news, trends and advances which the last twelve months have brought us. She is joined in the studio by BBC health reporter Philippa Roxby and Graham Easton, Professor of Clinical Communication Skills at Queen Mary University in London who debate their favourite health advances of the year. And Claudia returns to some of the biggest health news stories of the year to ask what happened next? Reuters’ Krishna N. Das gives an update on the contaminated cough syrup scandal in which more than 300 children are known to have died worldwide. And she revisits a story Health Check has been following for more than a decade; the case of disgraced transplant surgeon Paolo Macchiarini, as a new TV series hits Netflix. Presenter: Claudia Hammond Producer: Clare Salisbury

  • When will we have an HIV vaccine?

    20/12/2023 Duração: 26min

    With the failure of the PrEPVacc trial in Southern and Eastern Africa, HIV researchers are concerned that an HIV vaccine will not be developed before 2030 at the earliest. Claudia Hammond is joined by Matt Fox, Professor of Global Health Epidemiology at Boston University, to discuss the latest news about HIV vaccines, funding and treatment from around the world.We also hear about Super 5, a home-grown nutritional supplement being made by rural women in Rajasthan, in India, to address the problem of child undernutrition and malnutrition.Claudia also speaks to Dr Rašads Misirovs to talk about sneezing. In a rare case, a patient of Dr Misirovs in Scotland tore a hole in their windpipe by stifling a sneeze. We learn more about why we sneeze as well as how to prevent injury when doing so. Claudia and Matt also discuss how deaths from work-related illnesses are increasing, and concerns over the huge increase in calls to poison centres in the US because of accidental overdoses of injected weight-loss drugs.Presenter

  • Closer to a cure for morning sickness

    13/12/2023 Duração: 26min

    Morning sickness affects 4 in 5 women at some point in pregnancy but until now we’ve known little about why. Now researchers in the USA, Sri Lanka and the UK have discovered that it could be linked to a hormone produced in the placenta, and the mother’s reaction to it. Dr Graham Easton explains how it could lead to new cures. He also brings Claudia Hammond news from Ukraine where the ongoing war has caused an increase in multidrug-resistant organisms. The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Center for Public Health of Ukraine are calling the spread of antimicrobial resistance in Ukraine an urgent crisis. People living in Port Sudan, the country’s biggest sea port city, have spent days struck by an unprecedented infestation of flies. Claudia hears how it has made everyday life almost impossible, and how it could have long term health consequences for residents. And how does watching news coverage of disasters make you feel? Claudia discusses how bad news can impact our mental health with Rox

  • How do we know when a mystery illness is serious?

    06/12/2023 Duração: 26min

    On Health Check we often cover the outbreak of a mystery illness or unusual health event that has occurred somewhere across the globe. But how do we know when these illnesses are serious and how are they identified and investigated? Claudia Hammond speaks to Dr. Jarod Hanson from the Program for Monitoring Emerging Diseases (ProMED) about how they scan and review information related to global health security. This follows news about an outbreak of anthrax in the Kyotera district of Uganda. We hear from those who have been affected.Claudia is joined by BBC health reporter, Dr. Smitha Mundasad. They discuss the news that the UK Biobank has unveiled unparalleled new data from whole genome sequencing of its half a million participants. They hear from Dr. Maik Pietzner about why this data is so important for genetic research – his research into the cause of Raynaud's phenomenon was possible because of the data.New research from the University of Washington has looked at how unfiltered air from rush-hour traffic si

  • New Zealand backtracks on smoking ban

    29/11/2023 Duração: 26min

    When former Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern passed legislation to reduce access to tobacco products, the policy was held up as an international example. So there was shock among health experts in New Zealand and across the world this week when the newly sworn in Government announced they would be scrapping the plans. Claudia Hammond asks Janet Hoek, Professor of Public Health at the University of Otago what the international impact will be. She hears from the people who hear music when nothing is playing. Professor of cognitive neurology at Newcastle University, Tim Griffiths, describes what might be happening in the brain to cause these musical hallucinations. Claudia is also joined by public health expert Dr Tabitha Mwangi to discuss new research from Tanzania where health experts are collaborating with religious leaders to provide family planning services. They look ahead to COP28 in the United Arab Emirates where the climate conference will hold its first ever ‘Health Day’. And ask whether

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