BBC  |  Podcast , ±31 min episodes every 2 days
An indepth look at stories and issues from around the world. This podcast offers you the chance to access landmark series from our archive.

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The Saudis and the superpower

Joe Biden promised to be tough on Saudi Arabia. But this week, he stopped short of punishing the kingdom's crown prince despite US intelligence holding him responsible for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Ros Atkins looks at the President's first foreign policy test, and the Washington-Riyadh alliance.

Coronavirus: War and Covid trauma

We hear from two US veterans who served during the war in Vietnam about the similarities between their experiences and the trauma experienced by many during the pandemic. Covid vaccines are bringing renewed hope across the world when it comes to Covid-19 but thousands of people are continuing to die from the disease on a daily basis. The emotional toll of losing loved ones is being felt by so many around the world. Three people struggling with grief - from Bangladesh, Sweden and the United States - share their experiences.

Biden's world

President Biden claims “America is back”. He plans to put diplomacy first and restore long-standing American alliances. His predecessor, President Trump, left behind a very different world from the one he greeted in 2016. Fresh crises confront the Biden Administration, including the Myanmar coup and political unrest in Russia. And climate change is now an urgent global problem. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki are tasked with repositioning America in that shifting world. Can they bring America back, to assume a leadership role in this complex new world?

A year of Covid

In March 2020 the UK was gearing up to face the Covid-19 pandemic. Cases were increasing rapidly and by the end of month the country was in full lockdown with medics facing their toughest ever test. A group of doctors and nurses in intensive care units recorded audio diaries for the BBC which illustrated the true scale of the professional and personal challenge they faced. The UK was to become one of the worst hit countries for Covid-19 deaths in Europe. One year on – in the midst of a second wave - and a third lockdown - reporter Jane Deith revisits some of those doctors and nurses to find out how they are surviving the biggest challenge of their careers.

Producer: Rob Cave

Facebook's global power and influence

After a series of damaging scandals, many critics believe the social media giant has become too powerful and should be broken up. This week, Ros Atkins will consider Facebook's influence in Myanmar, its role in the storming of the Capitol building in Washington, and its decision to temporarily ban news in Australia.

Coronavirus: Venezuela's hospitals

Venezuela’s hospitals are dealing with a pandemic at a time when the country is already in an economic crisis. Many hospitals don’t have running water and there are shortages of oxygen and other medical supplies to treat Covid patients. Two doctors in the capital Caracas share their stories with host Nuala McGovern. In the United States, more than 500,000 lives have now been lost due to Covid-19. A reverend and deacon from a baptist church in New York, at one point the epicentre of the disease, reflect on how their community is coping almost a year after the pandemic was first declared.

Kenya’s unhappy doctors and nurses

All over the world, frontline health workers have paid the ultimate price during the coronavirus pandemic. But in Kenya the story of one young doctor’s heroism has made headlines for all the wrong reasons. Twenty eight year-old Stephen Mogusu died from Covid 19 in December 2020, after working on an isolation ward and complaining that he lacked adequate protective clothing. Despite his vital service, he hadn’t been paid a salary for five months. Stephen’s tragedy also exposes a wider malaise in Kenya’s health provision: A corruption scandal involving overpriced masks, aprons and other protective clothing. Meanwhile, across the country, a series of on-off strikes have disrupted care, as doctors, nurses and clinicians have made sporadic protests against alleged mismanagement and a devolved power structure they say is dysfunctional. For Assignment, Lucy Ash finds out what’s ailing Kenya’s healthcare system.

Producer: Michael Gallagher
Editor: Bridget Harney

(Image: Healthcare workers light candles next to a photograph of Doctor Stephen Mogusu. Credit: Dennis Sigwe/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

I am Robert Chelsea

Robert Chelsea suffered horrific burns after his stationary car was hit by a truck with a drunk driver at the wheel, in Los Angeles in 2013. He survived and went ahead with a series of demanding surgical operations at a Boston hospital in an attempt to restore his appearance. A shortage of black donors meant it was a long wait for his doctors to find even a partial match for his skin colour. The operation was a success. Although he still has difficulty speaking, he can now eat and drink without difficulty. In a moving narrative, Robert, his friends, family and doctors reflect on his remarkable journey.

How the Irish shaped Britain

With migration, integration and assimilation dominating much public debate, Fergal Keane explores the profound influence, over many centuries, of the Irish in Britain. Whether it is 19th Century theatre or verse, or today’s pop culture, Irish migrants and their descendants have deeply influenced and steered the UK’s literature and arts. Fergal Keane examines the impact of the longest and biggest immigrant story in the history of the United Kingdom.

Coronavirus: Living in a refugee camp

Tasneem recently graduated from university. Like everyone else, her future is on hold because of coronavirus. But for Tasneem it is a particularly uncertain time, as she has been living in Jordan at one of the world’s largest refugee camps, since leaving Syria with her family in 2013. Host Nuala McGovern has a conversation with her and her father about life in a refugee camp during the pandemic. We also hear why Tanzania is denying its people are dying from Covid-19; and how sniffer dogs in Finland can be trained to detect the virus among passengers arriving at Helsinki airport - with unprecedented success.

Drug-free in Norway?

Can Norwegians with psychosis benefit from radical, drug-free treatment? In a challenge to the foundations of western psychiatry, a handful of Norway’s mental health facilities are offering medication-free treatment to people with serious psychiatric conditions. But five years after the scheme began it is still being questioned by the health establishment. For Assignment, Lucy Proctor hears the testimony of Norwegian psychiatric patients, and the doctors who have aligned themselves on either side of the debate. Why is this happening in Norway? And how much power should people with debilitating psychosis have over their own lives?

Presenter: Lucy Proctor
Producer: Linda Pressly

(Image: Artwork depicting a young woman, with her head in her hands. Credit: Malin Rossi)

326 episodes

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