Health Desk

One evening in November 2014, Aissatou Sanogo's husband came to tell her some startling news.

"Aissatou," he said, "I'm leaving for Europe" — that very night. He earned a modest salary as a bakery deliveryman in Senegal but had dreams of making far more for his family in a European country.

Accidents happen, and if they are someone else's fault, you can go to court to try to get compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. If you win, though, the pot of gold you receive may be considerably smaller than you expect. Your health plan may claim some — or all — of the award as reimbursement for money it spent on your medical care.

At the Koforidua Regional Hospital in Ghana, Dr. Forster Amponsah is about to start an appendectomy in one of the hospital's four operating theaters. A half-dozen other patients who have been prepped for surgery lie on gurneys in the surgical ward's foyer. Amponsah is planning to do all the surgeries in quick succession — but then the entire wing of the hospital goes dark.

"The general electricity is out and our generator is broken down," Amponsah says.

When orchardist Eliza Greenman walks through a field of apple trees and gazes upon a pocked array of blemished and buckled fruits — scarred from fighting fungus, heat and pests — she feels a little thrill of joy. "I'm absolutely infatuated with the idea of stress in an orchard," says Greenman, who custom grafts and grows pesticide-free hard cider apples in Hamilton, Va. These forlorn, scabbed apples, says Greenman, may actually be sweeter.

Immunotherapy tablets are starting to edge out shots as a treatment for allergies. And it looks like the pills can help reduce the frequency of asthma attacks, too.

Scientists reported Tuesday that immunotherapy tablets for dust mite allergy reduced the risk of an attack in people with moderate to severe asthma. The results were published in JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association.

When it comes to reversing the obesity epidemic, there have been glimmers of hope that the U.S. might be making headway, especially with young children.

Over the past decade, states have passed laws intended to help women understand the results of their breast cancer screening mammograms if they have dense breasts. But those notifications can be downright confusing and may, in fact, cause more misunderstanding than understanding.

Having HIV — or getting treatment for it — speeds up the aging process by about five years, on average, scientists report in a new study.

The findings, published in the journal Molecular Cell, fit with what doctors have seen in clinics: HIV-positive people tend to get hit earlier in life with age-related diseases, such as osteoporosis, heart disease and dementia.

Only Human is a new podcast from WNYC Studios. Hosted by Mary Harris, Only Human tells stories we all can relate to. Because every body has a story. Subscribe to Only Human on iTunes or wherever you like to get your podcasts.

Hey! Wake up! Need another cup of coffee?

Join the club. Apparently about a third of Americans are sleep-deprived. And their employers are probably paying for it, in the form of mistakes, productivity loss, accidents and increased health insurance costs.

For more than a generation, health experts have hailed China's vaccination program as a success in eliminating preventable diseases like polio and tetanus. Advances in the country's public health have benefited from — and enabled — rapid economic growth.

But since last month, a nationwide scandal involving the illegal resale of vaccines has dented public confidence in the program, ignited public anger at the government and added fuel to ongoing small-scale street protests by parents who believed vaccines have injured or sickened their children.

To wrap up our series on public health in Baltimore, Audie Cornish met up with Baltimore City Health Commissioner Leana Wen in Freddie Gray's neighborhood of Sandtown-Winchester. The health department recently opened a new outpost of its violence prevention program Safe Streets there, employing ex-offenders to mediate conflicts before they erupt in violence.

When it comes to introducing babies to solid foods, rice cereal is often first. And rice is a staple in many baby and toddler foods.

But, as we've reported, multiple studies have found that rice-based foods contain traces of arsenic, and sometimes levels are surprisingly high.

Budget woes at the University of California, Berkeley could force the shutdown of a program many people are unaware of — its medical program.

Wouldn't it be great if the world could get rid of malaria altogether?

We've got a long way to go. Last year, there were about 214 million cases and 438,000 deaths from the mosquito-borne disease.

But just in time for World Malaria Day, there is some good news on the malaria front.

You've probably heard of the credentials M.D. and R.N., and maybe N.P. The people using those letters are doctors, registered nurses and nurse practitioners. But what about PSC.D or D.PSc? Those letters refer to someone who practices pastoral medicine — or "Bible-based" health care.

About 38,000 runners competed in the London Marathon today – and one of them ran it in orbit 200 miles above Earth.

British astronaut Tim Peake completed the 26.2 mile course at the International Space Station with an estimated time of 3:35.21 , the European Space Agency tweeted.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

Stacey McHoul left jail last summer with a history of heroin use and depression and only a few days of medicine to treat them. When the pills ran out she started thinking about hurting herself.

"Once the meds start coming out of my system, in the past, it's always caused me to relapse," she said. "I start self-medicating and trying to stop the crazy thoughts in my head."

It was December 2012 when the country learned about the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, that left 20 children dead at the hands of 20-year-old shooter Adam Lanza.

After the shock and the initial grief came questions about how it could have happened and why. Reports that Adam Lanza may have had some form of undiagnosed mental illness surfaced.

Confused about the word Eskimo?

Early morning light filters into the cavernous gymnasium as Neetu lunges, climbs and contorts her body into impossible positions. She shimmies up a thick rope that dangles from the two-story ceiling, her heavily muscled arms propelling her upward. She races through calisthenics with 25 other young women in the boot camp atmosphere of Chhotu Ram Stadium and Wrestling Center, in the Indian state of Haryana, known for its wrestling tradition.

The grueling twice-a-day practice– 4 hours in the morning and 3 1/2 in the afternoon-- is her ordinary routine.

Billy Ryan visits Roy's Trailer Park on Florida's Stock Island every two months. It's part of his regular rounds as an inspector for the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District.

"Hey, I'm just checking on the yards for the mosquito control," he tells one resident, Marie Baptiste, as he heads into her yard. "OK?" No problem, she tells him.

World leaders have celebrated Earth Day today by gathering in New York to sign a historic climate agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But some of the most vital environmental work is being done by ordinary citizens with extraordinary courage. People like subsistence farmers and tribal leaders in the poorest countries are standing up to some of the world's most powerful industries. And a growing number of them have been attacked — and sometimes murdered — for trying to protect the environment.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

"Junk food? Not at McDonald's!"

At least, that's what the fast-food chain hopes to convince Israel's health minster.

The gutsy slogan appeared at the top of full-page advertisements in Israeli newspapers last weekend after health minister Yakov Litzman called for a boycott of McDonald's in Israel – part of a new push to combat ballooning obesity and unhealthy eating habits in the country.

Some people with cancer, HIV and multiple sclerosis have better access to high-cost specialty drugs in marketplace plans this year, yet a significant proportion of these plans still place many expensive drugs in cost-sharing categories that require the highest patient out-of-pocket costs.

Why is this Passover different from any other? Because the story that the Jewish holiday commemorates — the exodus of the ancient Israelites from slavery in Egypt to freedom — resonates more strongly than ever in a world embroiled in a refugee crisis that encompasses approximately 60 million people, the highest number ever recorded, according to United Nations statistics.

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Beyond Tolerance

About Aspen Baker's TED Talk

The strong emotions sparked by abortion leave little room for thoughtful debate. To cut through the tension, Aspen Baker says we should openly tell — and listen to — stories about women who had abortions or decided not to.

About Aspen Baker

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