BBC World Service

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Health issues and medical breakthroughs from around the world.


Risks Taken by Health Workers Advising Gay Men in Countries Where Homosexuality is Illegal

May 18th, 2016

Episode 90 of 158 episodes

How do you get health information out to gay men in countries where homosexuality is illegal? To mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia this week, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine have mapped the efforts made in four countries - Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. It’s too dangerous to use health information leaflets or other mass media, so one of the authors of the report, Dr Adam Bourne, explains what other options are available. Could an ingredient of magic mushrooms, psilocybin, be used to treat cases of serious depression? A very small trial has shown promising results and the editor of the BBC’s Health website, James Gallagher, assesses its significance. Last November Sierra Leone was declared free of ebola, the epidemic which killed more than eleven thousand people in West Africa. The speed at which it took off highlighted the poor state of healthcare in the affected countries. The international focus on the disease led to the creation of facilities to deal with the outbreak. And now the crisis has lessened, the main hospital in Freetown has made an accident and emergency department for the first time, using the clinic set up to deal with Ebola. The BBC’s Health correspondent Matthew Hill has been to take a look. Does increased heartburn in pregnancy mean you are more likely to have a hairy baby? Patrick O’Brien, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at University College London Hospitals, tackles this health myth for Healthcheck. For surgery to be a success, it’s essential to have safe blood available for a transfusion if necessary. But in many parts of the world blood stocks are so low that people are dying. Sometimes people are afraid of donating blood, sometimes there’s no easy way of transporting blood to rural areas. Nakul Raykar, the Paul Farmer Global Surgery Fellow at Harvard Medical School, discusses whether innovative thinking can sort out the problem. And there was a surgical first for the US this week – the first successful penis transplant in that country, following another successful one in South Africa in 2014. James Gallagher explains how intricate this operation is. (Photo credit:Jose CABEZAS/AFP/Getty Images)

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