BBC World Service

News & Politics

Health issues and medical breakthroughs from around the world.


New Global Health Check

September 21st, 2016

Episode 114 of 158 episodes

Trying to improve the health of everyone on the planet is a mammoth task. But that’s the aim of the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs, which last year replaced the Millennium Development Goals. The first analysis of the SDGs has been published this week – with places like Iceland and Singapore at the top and war-torn Syria and South Sudan at the bottom. So no real surprises. But Devi Sridhar, who’s Professor of Global Public Health at the University of Edinburgh, says the SDGs could still provide a good basis for planning where to invest scarce resources. In countries like Chile healthcare can be expensive, compared with most people’s income. Those who can’t afford private medicine join long waiting lists to see doctors in the state subsidized system. But some are fed up with delays and one alternative system is growing in popularity. The indigenous Mapuche people – who make up around 7% of the country’s population - use herbal knowledge passed down from their ancestors. Jane Chambers has been to a Mapuche clinic to see what attracts people – despite there being no published evidence that it really works. Having a “good cry” can make us feel better, a fact borne out in psychological research. But what other impact can watching a weepy film have on our bodies? A new study by researchers from Oxford University suggests that it also increases our pain threshold. Participants had their pain tolerance measured by doing the “wall sit” test – where you sit on an imaginary chair, with your back to a wall, and see how long you can bear the pain. This was carried out before and after watching the film – along with a questionnaire about their emotional responses. Compared with a group which watched an unemotional documentary, those who watched the sad film had an increased pain threshold and felt more bonded with their fellow audience members. Dr Sophie Duncan from the Callevi Research Centre at Magdalen College, Oxford, says that the study shows just how powerful drama can be. (Photo:Thinkstock) )

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