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BBC 6 minute English-The Ebola outbreak

BBC 6 minute English-The Ebola outbreak

BBC 6 minute English-The Ebola outbreak


Transcript of the podcast

NB: This is not a word-for-word transcript

Rob: Hello I’m Rob. Welcome to 6 Minute English. I’m joined today by Feifei. Hello Feifei

Feifei: Hello, Rob

Rob: Today we’re talking about quite a controversial subject: the use of experimental drugs to treat disease. And, as always, you’ll learn some vocabulary – so you can talk about the topic too

Feifei: Experimental drugs are medicines which are still being tested – they haven’t yet been officially approved. And experimental drugs are a very hot topic with the recent cases of Ebola in West Africa

Rob: Ebola is caused by a virus for which there is no cure yet, and the mortality rate is high. The mortality rate is the proportion of people in a particular group who actually die of the disease

Feifei: Hundreds of people have been infected in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and over half have died

Rob: So – the World Health Organisation decided to allow the use of experimental drugs on people with the virus

Feifei: This is something very risky. The drug might cause unexpected changes in the body and make the patient worse. These are what we call side effects

Rob: But before we talk any more about experimental drugs, let’s go for our usual question. So Feifei, how much do you know about the Ebola virus

Feifei: I’m afraid I don’t know very much, but I have been following it on the news

Rob: OK. Well, maybe you’ll have to have a guess on this question. The virus Ebola got its name after a river in the northern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. But when was it discovered? Was it in

a) 1966

b) 1976

c) 1986

Feifei: Well, I’m not really sure but I’m gonna go with answer b) 1976

Rob: Well, we’ll have the answer at the end of the programme. Now, let’s get back to our topic – experimental drugs. The World Health Organisation (the WHO) announced they would allow the use of these drugs on humans, but… only under certain conditions

Feifei: What are the conditions

Rob: Well, with the answer is Dr Marie-Paule Kieny, who works for the WHO. Which word does she use to mean the patient gives permission for the drug to be used

Dr Marie-Paule Kieny, from the World Health Organisation

Transparency about all aspects of care, informed consent, freedom of choice, confidentiality, respect for person and preservation of dignity, and with the involvement of the community

Feifei: The word for permission was ‘consent’. And ‘informed consent’ was one of the conditions

Rob: ‘Informed consent’ means permission given by the patient after they’ve been told of the risks of using the drug

Feifei: I wonder what would happen if it didn’t work or if the patient had a bad reaction – might they sue the doctor

Rob: That’s a very interesting point. The Health Minister of Liberia, Walter Gwenigale, has already said that people won’t be allowed to sue if the drug doesn’t work or if it makes them worse. Listen to what he says now and see if you can identify the word he uses to mean being ‘legally responsible’ for something

Walter Gwenigale , Health Minister of Liberia

We are not just going to take them and start using them. It’s an experimental drug so people have to sign a waiver and ask us to give it to them. Because it’s not just like a drug that is for general use. If you want us to try the drug on you, you have to say that we are not liable for anything that happens to you as a consequence of receiving the drug

Feifei: He’s very direct: neither the government nor the doctors are liable – that’s the word which means legally responsible – if something bad happens to you

Rob: And that’s why if you are infected with the virus you have to sign a waiver

Feifei: A waiver. This is a formal document in which the person says they’ve given up a right or claim – in this case, the right to take others to court

Rob: Yes. That’s right

Feifei: So – people who are infected with Ebola can talk to a doctor, sign this document, this waiver, and get the medicine

Rob: Well, not exactly – because not everyone gets it

Feifei: And why is that

Rob: It’s still experimental – and not much of it has been produced so there might not be enough for all who need it. So do you give it to the sickest who are likely to die, or to those not so sick who might recover with the help of the drug? It’s a big dilemma. A dilemma is a situation in which a choice has to be made between different things and one is not much better than the other

Feifei: Quite a dilemma, indeed

Rob: Now, let’s get back to our quiz. I asked when the Ebola virus was discovered. Was it in 1966, 1976 or 1986

Feifei: And I said 1976

Rob: You were indeed right. It was discovered in 1976. Interestingly we don’t really know which animal carries the Ebola virus, although bats have long been suspected and this makes prevention and controlling Ebola quite difficult. Okay. Well, we’re almost at the end of the programme so let’s recall some of the words that we’ve used today

Feifei: We heard

experimental drug mortality rate side effects consent waiver liable dilemma

Rob: Thanks Feifei. Well that’s it for this programme. Please join us again soon for 6 Minute English from BBC Learning English

Both: Bye

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