More than five billion people around the world don’t have access to safe, affordable surgical care. It has been a big problem in Ethiopia where most specialist doctors are concentrated in the cities, contributing to high rates of maternal mortality.
In 2009 the Ethiopian government began training Integrated Emergency Surgical Officers. Health workers, such as nurses and midwives, are taught to perform emergency operations in remote, rural clinics where there are no surgeons. It was the first programme of its kind and is seen as a model for other developing countries.
More than 800 surgical officers have now completed the three-year Masters programme and are performing hundreds of caesareans and other emergency procedures each year.
People Fixing The World follows one of them, Seida Guadu, as she operates to try to save the lives of a mother and her unborn child.
Reporter: Ruth Evans
Producers: Lily Freeston and Hadra Ahmed
(Picture credit: BBC)
Portugal, drugs and decriminalisation
In the 1990s Portugal had a major heroin problem, and when it came to people injecting drugs it had one of the highest rates of HIV infection in the EU. It took a radical approach and decriminalised all personal drug use.
The law introduced in 2001 means people carrying drugs for personal consumption aren’t prosecuted - instead they are referred to health and social services to receive treatment, and the focus is on harm reduction.
And the strategy worked. The number of people using drugs fell dramatically, new HIV and Hepatitis C infections dropped and drug-related crime became much less of a problem.
So why haven’t more countries followed their lead and adopted this model?
Produced by Hannah McNeish for BBC World Service
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Can capturing carbon buy us time to tackle climate change?
To prevent the worst effects of climate change, we need to massively cut how much carbon we pump into the atmosphere. But those carbon cuts might not happen in time, so another approach may be needed.
Around the world, scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs are working on ways to give us more time to change our way of life. They’re developing technologies and techniques that effectively do climate change in reverse. Instead of pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, they suck it in and store it.
These projects range from using rock dust for “enhanced weathering” to trap carbon in farmers’ fields, to the power station attempting to capture it on its way up the chimney.
We go on a tour of these projects to see if they offer hope for the future.
Producer and reporter: Tom Colls
Photo Caption: Carbon dioxide illustration / Photo Credit: Getty Images
Can sleep deprivation help treat bipolar disorder?
People diagnosed with bipolar disorder are commonly treated with a variety of drugs. They aren’t always effective and can come with a range of side effects.
For several decades, an Italian psychiatrist has been pioneering a different approach. By asking his patients to stay awake for 36 hours three times over the course of a week – and combining the counterintuitive idea with bright light therapy and lithium – he has found that some of them demonstrate a remarkable improvement in mood, which can last indefinitely.
The therapy has caught the attention of researchers across the world, and new trials are being carried out, but the idea is not without its critics.
Sam Judah spends a week with a cohort of patients as they undergo sleep deprivation treatment at the San Raffaele hospital in Milan, and tries to find out if it is effective.
Producer: Sam Judah
(Photo caption: Francesco Benedetti / Photo credit: BBC)
Audience takeover: Your plastic solutions
We hear what you, our listeners, are doing to tackle the problem of plastic waste. The idea came about when you started getting in touch after a previous episode asking why we don’t reuse and refill the plastic containers we’ve already got. (The Reuse and Refill Revolution: Tuesday 23 April.) Since then you’ve sent lots of alternative ideas and suggestions. Nick Holland and Kat Hawkins hear from shoppers cutting down on packaging by buying in bulk, people organising litter-picking trips to clean up plastic from the desert and an idea to create giant floating plastic pontoons as platforms for new housing. There are some surprising tips too, like from the woman who reuses empty pet food sachets to store her pre-cooked meals in the freezer and the man who melts down his own plastic waste and turns it into fence posts.
Presenters Kat Hawkins / Nick Holland
Producer Nick Holland
(Photo credit: Getty Images)