Episodes

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Looking at health issues on a global scale, investigating discoveries and solutions in healthcare, and asking how to deliver a healthier world.

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Health issues and medical breakthroughs from around the world.

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THE TOLL OF PREMATURE BIRTH

15 million babies are born too soon around the world every year. And more than 1 million of them die as a result of complications because they are premature. For the first time ever we now have country by country figures for premature births. But there are ways of preventing some premature births and of saving more babies without always needing hi-tech equipment according to Dr Joy Lawn from Saving Newborn Lives, Save the Children. In countries like Malawi “kangaroo care� – where the baby is placed next to the mother’s skin to keep warm – has been shown to reduce the risk of infections and help premature babies to grow. And steroids can be injected before birth to improve the condition of the baby’s lungs.

UNNECESSARY TESTS

Doctors can order blood tests and scans to help work out what’s behind a symptom. But are those tests always necessary? Nine medical specialities in the United States have each released a list of five tests and procedures that they say are often unnecessary. They hope the Choosing Wisely campaign will encourage doctors and their patients to spend more time discussing what tests are really needed. Dr Chris Cassell is the President of the American Board of Internal Medical Foundation, a charity spearheading the campaign. She says the unnecessary tests result from both the way healthcare is funded in the States and a lack of knowledge of the latest evidence behind treatments.

DA VINCI DRAWINGS

16th century anatomical drawings by the renowned artist Leonardo Vinci are still being used today to teach new doctors. Buckingham Palace in London is the venue for a new exhibition of the sketches which opens this week. The scientific papers were left unpublished after da Vinci’s death – a fact that Peter Abrahams who’s Professor of Clinical Anatomy at Warwick Medical School believes actually held back the development of medical science. Many of the drawings show the intricate workings of the body – such as the heart, the foetus inside the uterus and the workings of muscles and ligaments in extended limbs. Many of them mirror the way that modern imaging scans display “slices� of the body.

More than a million babies die every year – the toll of premature birth

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More than a million babies die every year – the toll of premature birth

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2017/11/0120171101

Health issues and medical breakthroughs from around the world.

Four out five patients with Hepatitis C do not know they are 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, Brazil, to explore the best ways to detect and treat those infected.

Could boxing training help people with Parkinson’s disease? The neurological condition gets worse over time, leading to tremors in the arms and legs and even difficulty talking. Treatments do work – but can also cause distressing involuntary body movements known as dyskinesia. A Canadian doctor researching the impact of boxing exercise on patients says initial results are promising.

Do you prefer a map or a sat-nav to help guide you on a journey? A British psychologist asked students to navigate across the city of Liverpool – and then asked them to pinpoint where they had seen landmarks along the way. Those using paper maps had a more accurate recall of those landmarks – indicating that viewing the whole route on a paper map could help to reinforce memories.

(Photo: Computer generated illustration of Hepatitis C virus attack. Credit: Science Photo Library)

Eye Diseases In Ebola Survivors20171030

Ebola survivors left with cataracts and other eye diseases

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 technology. Roland Pease has been to Bath University to meet a team working on a project using a simple radio-like box to connect up carers so they can talk to each other.

The microbiome, our personal mixture of bacteria and other microbes, varies a lot between individuals and still no one knows what’s ideal. Greg Gloor, Professor of Biochemistry at Western University in Canada and colleagues have been studying 1000 people in China from the age of three to over a hundred, including an impressive two hundred over 95 year olds. Could their microbiome hold the secrets to a long and healthy life?

Image: Cataract surgery
Credit: Mohamed Abdiwahab/AFP/Getty Images