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.


  • Healthcare provision in North Korea

    18/05/2022 Duración: 26min

    Reports from North Korea have suggested a scarcity of data on healthcare provision but Claudia hears from Professor Hazel Smith who has researched North Korea for over thirty years that there is good information about health services. And do doctors have a professional duty to be kind? The General Medical Council in the UK are consulting on whether to require doctors to ‘treat patients with kindness’ and some have not taken kindly to the idea. Louella Vaughan, a hospital consultant in acute medicine and family doctor Ann Robinson debate the issues. Plus Claudia’s studio guest today is Graham Easton, Professor of Clinical Communication skills at Queen Mary, University of London. Presenter: Claudia Hammond Producer: Erika Wright (Picture: Pedestrians walk past cherry blossom trees near the Arch of Triumph in Pyongyang in April 2022. Photo credit: Kim Won Jin/AFP/Getty Images.)

  • New trial results of a fourth Covid booster

    11/05/2022 Duración: 26min

    Brand new results of a fourth Covid booster trial, with a mix and match approach including half doses, reveals good news for global vaccine rollout. BBC Health and Science correspondent James Gallagher explains. Plus evidence from Ohio where Professor Ihuoma Eneli's new paper shows how weight gain increased markedly in low-income US children and teenagers during early Covid-19. And the science of dreams, Claudia Hammond speaks to Brazilian neuroscientist Sidarta Ribeiro about his new wide ranging book The Oracle of Night. Presenter: Claudia Hammond Producer: Erika Wright (Picture: A patient who has received a fourth Covid-19 vaccination in Rieti, Italy. Photo credit: Riccardo Fabi/NurPhoto/Getty Images.)

  • Combined protection of Covid vaccination and prior infection

    04/05/2022 Duración: 26min

    Claudia is joined by Matt Fox, Professor of Global Health at Boston University to discuss evidence investigating a hybrid combination of Covid vaccines and prior infection. Dr Vineet Arora explains how best to support health care workers who have received online attacks for trying to correct inaccurate information during the Pandemic. And advice for parents on how to cope when their children are having mental health problems from authors Roz Shafran, Alice Welham and Ursula Saunders. Presenter: Claudia Hammond Producer: Erika Wright (Picture: Illustration of antibodies responding to a coronavirus infection. Photo credit: Juan Gaertner/Science Photo Library/Getty Images.)

  • New Covid Research

    27/04/2022 Duración: 26min

    Update on the latest global research into Covid-19 and Claudia talks to the authors of a new study charting brain development over the human life span. Could this be a useful tool to understanding how the brain varies over populations and over time and what are the ethical questions involved? Plus if you carry excess weight, what difference does it make to your health if those extra kgs are round your waist or hips? Presenter: Claudia Hammond Producer: Erika Wright (Picture: Neurologists working with CT brain scan images in a laboratory. Photo credit: Gorodenkoff/Getty Images.)

  • Are we kinder to people like us?

    20/04/2022 Duración: 26min

    Using the results of the Kindness Test, which 60,000 people took part in, Claudia Hammond asks whether we are kinder to people who we think are like us? And what happens once we move beyond family and friends to acquaintances and strangers. What can the evidence tell us about who it is that we choose to be kind to and why? Presenter: Claudia Hammond Producer: Erika Wright

  • More cases of Covid in Africa than official figures suggest

    06/04/2022 Duración: 26min

    Claudia Hammond talks to Chris Gill, Associate Professor at Boston University School of Public Health and co-author of a new paper revealing the devastating impact of Covid in Zambia. By conducting post mortem Covid swabs on more than 1000 bodies taken to a morgue in Lusaka, his work suggests a staggering 90% undercount of cases and goes a long way to countering the so called African Paradox – a narrative suggesting that Africa skipped Covid. Jane Chambers reports from Chile on progress to get 90% of people living with HIV to know their status, have access to antiretroviral therapy and to achieve viral suppression. Out of an estimated 77,000 people living with HIV in Chile – 70,000 know their condition. But there’s one statistic which is worrying health care professions. 16,000 individuals are aware they have HIV but aren’t taking the free medication which they’re entitled to. What are the factors influencing this decision and what are the consequences? Plus Claudia’s studio guest Professor Monica Lakhanpau

  • Treating stress and anxiety in Ukraine

    30/03/2022 Duración: 27min

    Claudia Hammond talks to an Ukrainian psychotherapist about the increased demand for her services since Russia invaded her country. Is multiple sclerosis caused by a virus? Health Check looks at the latest evidence pointing to Epstein Barr virus, which more commonly causes glandular fever or mononucleosis. The discovery offers hope for a vaccine and new more effective treatments. Family doctor Ann Robinson joins Claudia to discuss the Epstein Barr findings as well as the extra risk of being infected with both Covid and flu viruses, and a promising gene therapy for haemophilia A. Presenter: Claudia Hammond Producer: Andrew Luck-Baker (Picture: A man and woman walk through rubble in the Podilskyi district of Kyiv, capital of Ukraine on 23 March 2022. Photo credit: Yuliia Ovsiannikova/Ukrinform/Future Publishing/Getty Images.)

  • What should Hong Kong do about Covid-19?

    23/03/2022 Duración: 33min

    The number of new Covid-19 infection cases worldwide has jumped by 10%. Tabitha Mwangi, Programme Manager at Cambridge Africa at Cambridge University, gives us a rundown of how that overall increase is playing out in different parts of the world. Hong Kong had been one of the most successful places at controlling Covid-19 but recently faced the highest death rates in the world. What went wrong? We hear from Vivian Wong, a public health advisor and honorary professor of Chinese Medicine at the University of Hong Kong. And how are pandemic restrictions impacting people’s mental wellbeing? Christian Chan, an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Hong Kong and a warden at a student residence, shares his thoughts. Also, do you think you’re more likely to catch Covid-19 from a friend or a stranger? Ashley Whillans, a social psychologist at Harvard Business School in the US, tells us what happened when she asked people this very question. Presenter: Claudia Hammond Producer: Samara Linton (Pictu

  • The Kindness Test: The Results

    16/03/2022 Duración: 28min

    Although the world might not feel like a very kind place at the moment, this might be just the time when acts of kindness matter the most. This week on Health Check, Claudia Hammond reveals the results of the world's largest public science project on Kindness. With over 60,000 participants from 144 countries, this unique study helps to fill some of the research gaps and learn more about how kindness is viewed within society at large. What is kindness? Are we more or less kind than before? Where do acts of kindness take place? Are certain types of people kinder than others? Is kindness good for us? Professor Robin Bannerjee, University of Sussex, led the study and joins Claudia in the studio to unpick the results. Presenter: Claudia Hammond Producer: Samara Linton

  • How children think about maths and time

    10/03/2022 Duración: 26min

    Claudia Hammond explores how children think with two psychologists; Dr Victoria Simms from Ulster University who researches how children’s understanding of maths develops and professor Teresa McCormack from Queens University Belfast who researches how children understand time. The discussion was recorded in front of an audience at the Northern Ireland Science Festival in February 2020. Presenter: Claudia Hammond Producer: Caroline Steel (Photo: A group of preschool children sitting on the floor with their legs crossed and their arms raised in the air. Credit: FatCamera/Getty Images)

  • Helping children cope with headline anxiety

    03/03/2022 Duración: 27min

    Health issues and medical breakthroughs from around the world.Hundreds of thousands are fleeing the conflict in Ukraine, and not all of them are Ukrainians. The country has a sizeable population of overseas medical students, many from African and Asian countries. Mathew Kalu is a Nigerian-born medical doctor who has lived in Ukraine for 12 years. He tells us why Ukraine is the go-to destination for so many future doctors and how he is helping them leave the country safely. Is the news cycle making children anxious? Consultant Clinical Psychologist Jane Gilmour tells us that children may be more aware of the news cycle than we may think and shares tips for comforting them in the face of uncertainty. And Monday marked Rare Disease Day. We hear from Alan Bentley, whose rare skin condition baffled more than a dozen doctors, and how Professor Edel O'Toole helped him access a life-transforming drug. This week's guest is Dr Graham Easton, family doctor and Professor of Clinical Communication Skills at

  • Why measles is sweeping through Afghanistan

    23/02/2022 Duración: 38min

    This week on Health Check, polio makes an unwelcome return to the African continent and measles cases are soaring among children in Afghanistan. We hear from WHO spokesperson Dr Margaret Harris and Médecins Sans Frontières’ Sarah Vuylsteke and Maxime Pirard who are based at Herat Regional Hospital in western Afghanistan. We also hear how the pandemic has impacted children worldwide, from disruption to routine vaccination services to studies suggesting high mortality rates among children with Covid-19 in sub-Saharan Africa. Now Covid-19 has exposed gaps in health care systems and inequalities in societies around the world. We discuss how the pandemic has galvanised calls for healthcare independence for African countries, and Dr Yen Lam Minh and Dr Louise Thwaites tell us about the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit programme which will develop high-quality intensive care in Vietnam. Our guest is public health expert Dr Tabitha Mwangi who managed the Cambridge Africa programme at Cambridge Univers

  • Pig organs for transplant patients

    16/02/2022 Duración: 27min

    People die waiting for replacement hearts, lungs and kidneys. Could genetically modified pigs be the solution to a worldwide shortage of organ donors? We meet the teams that have had impressive recent successes transplanting pig organs into people. We’ll explore the huge leaps of genetic engineering that are making 'xenotransplantation' possible and ask if it’s even ethical to try. In the studio with Marnie Chesterton, Dr Graham Easton guides us through the science of getting pig organs to work in human bodies. We also hear from transplant surgeon Dr Devagourou Velayoudam and Professor Nadey Hakim, on how these breakthroughs might benefit India and Nigeria, and other countries which don’t have the same medical and research resources of the US. Presenter: Marnie Chesterton Producer: Ilan Goodman (Picture: Two pigs on a farm. Photo credit: Charity Burggraaf/Getty Images.)

  • Black women and breast cancer

    09/02/2022 Duración: 27min

    Breast cancer makes up a third of all cancer diagnoses for black women and for those with the most common type of cancer, ER-positive (estrogen or oestrogen positive) cancers, black women are 42% more likely to die of the disease than white women. The reasons for these disparities are complex and include socio-economic factors and racism. There is also a historical absence of samples from black women in research databases and lack of inclusion in clinical trials. Researchers at Stanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute at La Jolla, California in the US have discovered significant differences at the molecular level which could explain some of the disparities. In research published in the journal, Therapeutic Advances in Medical Oncology, Dr Svasti Haricharan and her team found significant differences in black women in the all-important DNA damage repair genes, the proteins which form our body’s first line of defence against damage to our DNA. Dr Haricharan tells Marnie Chesterton that these findings

  • Bringing death back into life

    02/02/2022 Duración: 26min

    The pandemic has caused many people to die alone in hospital intensive care units - whilst others have died at home without the support and pain relief they needed. The Lancet Commission on the Value of Death is calling for a radical change in how we approach death. Co-author Dr Libby Sallnow explains what makes a good death, and palliative care consultant Dr M R Rajagopal shares how communities have transformed palliative care in Kerala, India. Mixed messaging around Covid vaccines for pregnant women have resulted in a low uptake, leaving mothers and babies at risk of infection and serious complications. Dr Sarah Stock, an Honorary Consultant and Subspecialist in Maternal and Fetal Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, reassures us that vaccines are safe in pregnancy. Following the Spotify misinformation row, Marnie Chesterton asks how should streaming platforms respond to false claims about Covid-19? Professor Matt Fox from Boston University says they have a responsibility to tackle misinformation b

  • Gene therapy hope for sickle cell patients

    26/01/2022 Duración: 26min

    Positive results for a handful of patients on a trial in the United States offers hope for the millions of people around the world living with sickle cell disease. Doctors say the gene-editing therapy literally 'turns back the clock' by reducing the number of red blood cells that are sickle-shaped and increasing the type that a baby has, which can carry more oxygen around the body. Other cheaper, more widely-available medications can work, but we hear how the health of sickle cell patients depends on where they live. After two years of caring for patients with Covid-19, many healthcare workers are exhausted. This week’s guest, Graham Easton, who is Professor of Communication Skills at Barts and The Royal London Hospital, explains how mistakes can happen when doctors carry out repetitive tasks when they are tired. Could changing your asthma inhaler be better for you and the planet? We hear from Caroline and her son Sebastian, who found that switching to dry-powder inhalers transformed their lives. Prese

  • Are people with asthma who exercise healthier?

    19/01/2022 Duración: 26min

    As Omicron spreads across the US, Claudia Hammond is joined by Professor Matt Fox from Boston University to discuss the latest Covid-19 news, including President Biden’s pledge to make high-quality masks available across the country. Wheezing and feeling breathless is a fact of life for the 262 million people around the world who have asthma. Some worry that exercise will worsen their asthma symptoms. But UK researchers say that evidence shows that all people with asthma can exercise safely – even if that’s just walking across a room. Lung specialist Andrew Wilson says that the risks are low as long as the symptoms are controlled with medication. Health psychologist Leanne Tyson recommends setting small goals and regular rewards to help keep up the habit. Asthma patient Bill Day, who’s in his 50s, says now that his asthma is under control, he can swim two miles a day to keep fit and healthy. Yellow and green boxes on social media feeds mean that your friends have been sucked into the world of Wordle, the i

  • Omicron set to infect half of Europe

    12/01/2022 Duración: 26min

    Tabitha Mwangi, programme manager at Cambridge Africa at Cambridge University, joins Claudia to discuss the latest on the rapid spread of Omicron across Europe and the factors behind the waves of Covid-19 infections in Kenya. In light of the controversy surrounding Novak Djokovic’s participation in the Australian Open Tennis tournament, Dr Maggie Wearmouth explains the rare instances where people can be medically exempt from having a Covid vaccination. Also, what do the lung scans of Covid-19 patients tell us about how the virus gets around the body, and should we be washing our mouths as well as our hands? Dr Graham Lloyd-Jones, a radiologist from the UK, shares his theory. A new South African study shows how women living with HIV are able to keep healthy – but as they get older, they often develop high blood pressure and diabetes. Tabitha says that there are “missed opportunities” when they come into contact with health services where their weight and overall health could be monitored and advice shared.

  • Home working versus the office

    05/01/2022 Duración: 26min

    As millions of us have had to stay away from our workplaces during the pandemic, Claudia Hammond explores the psychology of working from home versus the office. Some people have loved not having to commute and quietly beavering away at home, but others have missed the buzz of the office, found balancing family and work at home very difficult with lack of space or limited internet access. So in the future when Covid is less of a worry what does the evidence tell us about where it’s best to work? Presenter: Claudia Hammond Producer: Erika Wright (Picture: Father working from home with his son sitting next to him. Photo credit: Marko Geber/Getty Images.)

  • Do our pets care about us?

    29/12/2021 Duración: 27min

    In the past philosophers and scientists have argued about the nature of animal minds: Darwin thought they differed from us only by degree but Descartes believed they were merely machines made of flesh. Anthro-zoologist from the University of Sussex Dr Karen Hiestand wants to find out if our pets really care about us so she filmed owners pretending to be hurt to monitor the reactions of their dogs and cats. Mental health campaigner Marion Janner says her life was saved numerous times by her support dog Buddy. We hear about the central role animals play in Marion’s life and how she coped when Buddy died last year. On a walk in the park, we hear how a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy called Polly helped her owner Sam to come to terms with the death of her previous dog Margo. And Diane James from the Blue Cross for Pets charity explains how they offer telephone and online support to anyone who’s experienced pet loss. Cats have had a bit of an image problem but Karen Hiestand says their apparent aloofness and accus

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