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The BBC World Service's weekly round up of global health stories and topical issues in medicine.

The BBC World Service's weekly round up of global health stories and topical issues in medicine.
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The BBC World Service's weekly round up of global health stories and topical issues in medicine.




British Trial Hope for Leukaemia Patients

Could a British medical trial herald a cure for the commonest type of blood cancer? BBC reporter Simon Cox has had Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia or CLL for more than a decade. Like him, many patients don’t have health problems for years. For those who do need treatment, options include chemotherapy or bone marrow transplants. CLL is a disease of the immune system – the lymphocyte cells which fight infections and then die, instead grow out of control and can’t be “switched off”. Simon Cox...


Is Diabetes Five Different Diseases?

New research suggests there are five distinct types of diabetes and not just the two in the medical text books. Claudia Hammond talks to BBC News health reporter James Gallagher and lead researcher Leif Groop of the Lund University Diabetes Centre in Sweden about this new proposed classification of this globally rampant condition. How might it affect how people with the various different types are treated in the future. Professor Groop is now working with doctors in India and China to see...


Seven Hour Operation Removes Giant ‘Brain’ Tumour

Earlier this month, neurosurgeon Trimurti Nadkarni led a surgical team that removed what’s claimed to be the world’s largest brain tumour. The 31 year old patient from Mumbai had a tumour that weighed 1.8 kilogrammes and that had grown beneath the skin of his scalp through the skull and into the brain. Dr Nadkarni of the BYL Nair Charitable Hospital tells Claudia Hammond how his team approached the 7 hour long, high risk operation. The doctors and nurses working in besieged Eastern Ghouta...


Lassa Fever Outbreak in Nigeria

An outbreak of Lassa fever in Nigeria has made hundreds ill and killed at least 43 people. With symptoms including bleeding from gums, eyes and nose, it shares some similarities with Ebola, but is less infectious and can be mild. Professor Dan Bausch of the UK Public Health Rapid Support Team is preparing to send people over to Nigeria if required to contain the outbreak. And Professor Robert Garry of Tulane University tells Claudia Hammond about the search for a vaccine against Lassa...


50 Years Since First Heart Transplant

The first ever heart transplant took place in Cape Town in South Africa fifty years ago this week. That patient died after just 18 days – but today around five thousand people have heart transplants every year. A shortage of donor hearts means there is often a wait – and an artificial pump called an L-VAD can buy time. We hear from doctors and a patient about the advances in technology which have made the pumps easier to live with. The World Health Organization says that more than 200...


Every Step You Take Counts

Millions of people wear electronic step-counting bracelets or use apps on their phones – aiming for ten thousand steps a day. Claudia Hammond asks whether this routine motivates her – or if it’s actually setting her up for failure. Some experts applaud the bar charts and graphs which track progress as proof of healthy activity. But can the constant checking take away the pleasure of exercise? American scientists found that after the novelty wore off people did less because the competitive...


Could Cholesterol-lowering Drugs Fight Pneumonia?

Thousands of people around the world take a statin pill every day – to lower their cholesterol levels and help reduce their risk of stroke and heart attacks. In some people they cause side-effects – but they might also have a hidden benefit - helping older people fight the serious respiratory infection pneumonia. A British researcher describes her delight when she saw that statins boosted the immune systems of older people – which could help them fight deadly pneumonia. Following the...


When The Brain Wakes Up – But The Body Doesn’t

“When your brain wakes up but your body doesn’t” is how a sleep expert describes the phenomenon of sleep paralysis. Around 1 in 20 people will experience vivid hallucinations while falling asleep or waking up whilst being completely unable to move. Sleeping on your back can help to reduce the risk of an attack. Even less well understood is 'Exploding Head Syndrome' where people experience abrupt and very loud noises when going to sleep or waking up. To mark the 150th anniversary of Marie...


The “Hidden” Virus That Attacks The Liver

Four out five patients with hepatitis C don't know they're infected – and the virus can cause cancer or cirrhosis of the liver, leading to 1.3 million deaths every year. The World Health Organisation wants to eliminate hepatitis by 2030 – but only a handful of countries like Egypt and Australia are on track. The World Hepatitis Summit has been taking place in Sao Paulo in Brazil this week – to explore the best ways to detect and treat those infected. Could boxing training help people with...


Eye Diseases in Ebola Survivors

Around a quarter of survivors of the Ebola outbreak that started back in 2014 in West Africa have developed eye problems, including uveitis and cataracts. Dr Jessica Shantha and Dr Steven Yeh, both assistant professors of ophthalmology at Emory University in Atlanta US talked to Claudia Hammond about how they’ve been studying and treating the conditions. Loneliness is a huge problem amongst carers. Connecting via social media is a solution for some, but not everyone is comfortable with the...


Profound Psychological Impact of Heart Failure

Heart Failure This serious condition – where the heart can no longer pump sufficient blood around the body - affects 26 million people around the world. Symptoms can include breathlessness, fluid retention and tiredness - enough to have a severe impact on the quality of life. A heart failure diagnosis can be frightening and stressful but there is good evidence that psychological support can help. Claudia Hammond hears from patients and medical staff about the challenges of dealing with the...


The Game Encouraging Medics to not use Jargon

When you visit the doctor how much do you understand what’s being said? Communicating complex medical information – especially to sick children – can be a challenge for medical staff. Now a game called Dr Jargon has been created to encourage doctors to use simple language to explain common complaints to patients. The scientist who’s designed a way to “sniff out” polio viruses in the Israeli sewage system. For a number of years the world has been on the verge of eradicating the disease...


Who is Best Suited to a Move to the Red Planet?

As we dream of sending humans to Mars, the psychological problems of such a mission loom large. Claudia Hammond ponders the most important qualities required from those who’d like to colonise Mars. Surviving a cramped nine-month journey and the pod-like homes on the red planet requires a mix of resilience, curiosity and the ability to get on with others. She meets the volunteers who have been sampling similar long term simulations here on earth - and the psychologists who've overseen the...


Can Gas Stoves Cut Indoor Air Pollution?

Around the world more than 3 billion people cook and heat their homes using fuel like wood and charcoal on open fires or traditional stoves. This inefficient method produces lots of smoke – creating indoor air pollution. The World Health Organisation says indoor pollution kills more than 4 million people every year. Our reporter Sammy Darko has been to the village of Kintampo in central Ghana where researchers provided cleaner gas stoves to see if they improved the health of pregnant women...


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