Watch and Listen

1. Watch the video. Write T (true) or F (false) next to the statements below. Correct the false statements.

___  The Health Tablet provides test results very quickly.

___  The Health Tablet can store patient records.

___  The clinic provides healthcare for equal numbers of rich and poor people.

___  There are thousands of similar clinics, all over India.

___  Dr Kahol believes that innovations should benefit poor people first.

___  India invests heavily in its healthcare system.

2. Watch again. Complete the notes.

1   The Health Tablet is ________________ to poor people’s lives in India. It can give people ________________ 33 tests along with ________________.

2   Dr Kanov Kahol wants to improve healthcare for the poor. He says most healthcare innovations are ________________.

In contrast, he wants to develop them for the poor first because these devices will have to ________________.

3   For many people in India, good healthcare is not available. India only spends under ________________.

Every year, many people are forced into poverty because of ________________.



1 T   2 T

3 F; The patients are mainly the underprivileged.

4 F; The government plans to open 1,000 such community clinics.

5 T

6 F; India spends less than 1.5% of its GDP on public health.


1   making all the difference; instant results of; storing medical records

2   made for the top one percent of the world; work in conditions and environments that are not necessarily very friendly

3   1.5% of its GDP on public health; medical cost


New ‘health table’ gives instant test results

Commentator:   A government-run clinic unlike any other. Set up in a slum on the outskirts of the national capital, it uses technology to bring quality change to the poorest. A hand-held device called a Swasthya, or Health Tablet, is making all the difference. It provides instant result of 33 diagnostic tests including pre-natal screening, diabetes, malaria, hepatitis, typhoid and even HIV. 54-year-old Kussum has a blood sugar test. With results instantly displayed, the doctor prescribes her medicines. What could have taken her a few trips and a couple of days, she walks out within minutes. The device also stores medical records in the cloud for future reference. Three hundred patients are attended to every day. They are mainly the underprivileged, who otherwise would struggle to get basic medical care.

Patient 1:   It used to take us up to three days to get tests and results after a number of trips to hospitals and clinics. Here it’s all immediately done whilst seeing the doctor. We’re very happy and satisfied with the clinic.

Commentator:   The government plans to open 1,000 such community clinics, using the same technology. This 400-pound device is the brainchild of Dr Kanov Kahol. A professor at the Arizona State University, he quit and returned to India to create affordable health technologies. With a small team, he is now working on improving and creating other devices that can potentially revolutionize medical care for the masses.

Dr Kanov Kahol:   Most innovations are made for the top one percent of the world, right? And then they somehow trickle down to the bottom billion, and I was very interested in reversing that pyramid. I said, why don’t we actually start making innovations for the bottom billion? Because they will have to work in conditions and environments that are not necessarily very friendly, but once you get it to work there, it can always go ahead and work for across the world.

Commentator:   India spends less than 1.5% of its GDP on public health, one of the lowest in the world. Every year millions of Indians are pushed into poverty due to medical cost. In an overburdened and creaking health system, new technologies may just be the cure.

Listening 1

1. Listen to the seminar. Take notes as you listen and focus on these questions. What might cause a pandemic? What factors make a country at high risk for a pandemic?

2. Listen again and complete the student’s notes with the different opinions.

idea for stopping the spread of disease

opinion 1

opinion 2

Governments must make sure populations are in good health and have good living conditions.

There’s a limit to what governments can do in times of economic difficulty.

Governments don’t always have the power to say exactly how everyone should live.

Everyone should be forced to have vaccines.

(1) A vaccine that worked well last year __________.

(2) A lot of people don’t want to have a vaccine that __________.

People with diseases shouldn’t be allowed into the country.

(3) People spread diseases __________.

(4) It would be impossible to __________.

All flights from countries with a pandemic should be stopped.

(5) It would __________.

(6) It could __________.



1 Possible causes of pandemics: poor general health, lack of vaccines

2 Possible factors making a country high risk: large populations living close together, many international travellers


1 may not be effective this year

2 might not work

3 before they even know they have them

4 set up a system for checking if people have a disease

5 have a terrible effect on the economy

6 stop a lot of people going to work and it could separate families


Teacher:   Throughout history, there have been many pandemics around the world: measles, malaria, cholera, the flu. So how does a common disease turn from an outbreak into a pandemic? Any ideas?

Student 1:   People’s general health and how close they live to each other can be major factors in the spread of disease, can’t they?

Student 2:   Yes, so governments need to make sure people are in good health and have good living conditions to stop diseases from spreading.

Teacher:   Well, that’s a good idea, but there’s a limit to what governments can do, especially in times of economic difficulty.

Student 2:   And governments don’t always have the power to say exactly how everyone should live.

Teacher:   So what factors do you think would make a country at a high risk for a pandemic?

Student 3:   Well, countries with large populations are probably at risk, especially where large numbers of people live close together.

Student 1:   And countries which a lot of international travellers pass through, like the UK and other countries in dark and medium blue on the map.

Teacher:   That’s right. The countries most at risk of a pandemic these days are wealthier countries like the UK, South Korea, the Netherlands and Germany. What do those countries have in common?

Student 2:   They’re not all large countries, but they do all have large cities with big populations.

Student 1:   And they’re all places where a lot of international travellers might go. They have a lot of busy airports and potentially thousands of people coming in every day, from all over the world.

Teacher:   Correct. If you look at those countries in light blue, they’re at a medium or low risk for a pandemic because they have less dense populations, less international travel, fewer borders, etc. OK, so imagine you’re an adviser to your government. You want to protect your country from a pandemic. What should you do?

Student 1:   You should give everyone a vaccine.

Teacher:   A vaccine. OK, good idea. Can anyone explain what that is?

Student 2:   It’s a kind of medicine, isn’t it?

Teacher:   Yes, sort of. Most medicines are given to patients after they develop an illness, to help them recover, but a vaccine is different. A vaccine provides disease prevention. If people have the flu vaccine, they often don’t become infected. So if we wanted to avoid pandemics, then governments would need to implement vaccination programmes for common diseases, wouldn’t they?

Student 3:   The government should force everyone to have vaccines. They should give a vaccine to people as soon as an outbreak occurs, because prevention is generally much easier than treatment. When governments focus on the prevention of disease, pandemics become very rare.

Student 2:   I’m not sure I agree. The trouble is, organisms that cause disease, like bacteria or viruses, change every year. So a vaccine that worked really well last year may not be effective this year.

Student 1:   There’s another thing to consider too; a lot of people don’t want to have a vaccine that might not work. The government can’t force people to have a vaccine, can it?

Teacher:   Well, I don’t think any governments do, but in the event of a pandemic, they definitely encourage people to have it, and a lot of people do. People don’t want to contract a disease, do they? So, other than vaccination, what other ways are there of stopping the spread of disease?

Student 1:   International travel is a big risk to a disease spreading quickly. We shouldn’t allow people with diseases into the country.

Student 3:   I’m not sure I agree. The trouble is most people spread diseases before they even know they have them.

Student 2:   And there’s another problem. How could people prove whether or not they have diseases? It would be impossible to set up a system for checking it.

Student 1:   During a pandemic, we should stop all flights from countries that are affected, shouldn’t we? If we don’t let people into the country, then the disease won’t get here.

Student 2:   But there’s another side to that argument. People travel all the time for business. It would have a terrible effect on the economy, wouldn’t it?

Student 3:   But also, in most countries, people who live near a border travel back and forth across it, sometimes every day. If countries stopped people from travelling, a lot of people could lose their jobs. It could also separate families.

Teacher:   Well, those are some really interesting views from all of you. Can anyone think of some simpler suggestions for decreasing the risk of pandemics, then? Perhaps not as large scale as closing down country borders?

Student 1:   Well, people who have the flu should stay at home from school or from work, shouldn’t they?

Listening 2

1. You are going to listen to a debate about the flu vaccine on a radio programme. Listen to the introduction and choose the answers that are correct.

 Experts agree / don’t agree about whether flu vaccines are necessary.

 Experts believe / have proved that the flu vaccine saves lives.

 Experts have / haven’t shown that the flu vaccine is unsafe.

 Some / Almost all of the public choose to get a flu vaccine.

2. Listen to a debate on a radio programme. Create a T-chart with one column for Dr Sandra Smith and one column for Mark Li. Take notes on each speaker’s opinions about the flu vaccine. Use the questions to guide your notes.

–  Is the flu vaccine a good idea?

–  Do vaccines need to be tested each year?

–  Is the flu vaccine helpful or harmful?

–  Should people have the flu vaccine? If yes, who?

3. Write T (true) or F (false) next to the statements. Then correct the false statements. Listen to the debate again to check your answers.

___ Millions of people get severely ill from the flu every year.


___ The majority of the population receives the flu vaccine.


___ Dr Smith has had the flu vaccine.


___ Mr Li is against all forms of vaccination.


___ There is scientific evidence that the flu vaccine might not work.


___ There is scientific evidence that the flu vaccine makes people ill.




1 don’t agree   2 believe   3 haven’t   4 Some


Possible answers:

Dr Sandra Smith: Overall, flu vaccination is a good idea. New flu vaccines need to be made each year as the virus changes. No evidence that flu vaccine is harmful. Certain people should definitely have the flu vaccine, such as children, people over 65, pregnant women and anybody who already has a serious illness.

Mark Li: The flu vaccine isn’t a good idea. It isn’t scientifically tested. The flu vaccine can make you ill. Nobody should have the flu vaccine.


1 F; Hundreds of thousands of people get ill from the flu every year.

2 F; The majority of the population does not receive the flu vaccine.

3 T   4 F; He is not against all vaccines, just some.

5 F; There is no scientific evidence that the vaccine doesn’t work.

6 F; There is no scientific evidence that the flu vaccine makes people ill.



Host:   Flu season is here, but experts and the public are divided on the subject of vaccination. Those in favour of the flu vaccine say that it may help you avoid getting ill and may also help stop the spread of the disease. They point out that this may save lives. Those experts against the flu vaccine argue that there is no proof that it works. Some go so far as to say that it may be unsafe because it is produced very quickly, though there is no evidence to support this claim.

The fact is that there is no research or clinical evidence to show that either side is correct. As the debate continues, statistics show that only about 30% of us choose to have the flu vaccine each year.


2 3

Host:   Since the news that this year’s flu vaccine is ready, the government has advised that the old, the young and people with medical problems be vaccinated. However, not everyone thinks vaccination is a good idea. According to NHS England, less than 50% of those eligible to have the flu vaccine – most people except for the very young and very old – got the flu vaccine as a precaution last year. That means over 50% did not get vaccinated. Of that 50%, some are actively against the flu vaccine.

In today’s debate, we’ll begin with flu expert Dr Sandra Smith, who is in favour of flu vaccination. After that, we’ll hear from alternative medicine practitioner Mark Li, who is against flu vaccination.

Dr Smith will now begin. Dr Smith?

Dr Smith:   Thank you. Well, influenza, or the flu, is a respiratory disease that can make you feel extremely ill. Most people who get the flu recover after several days. While they may feel terrible, there are usually no long-lasting problems. However, the flu can cause severe illness or worse for a small percentage of the people who get it. It may not sound like a lot, but actually this is hundreds of thousands of people around the world each year. It can be especially serious for the very old and the very young. Obviously, we want to do everything in our power to stop the infection from spreading. This brings us to vaccination. When people get vaccinated, less flu can spread through the population.

Vaccines have saved millions of lives. They’re a proven method of disease prevention. Scientists have been developing flu vaccines from the 1930s up to today, so we have a lot of experience with them. Researchers make new flu vaccines every year, based on the previous year’s flu virus. The World Health Organization recommends that children between the ages of six months and five years, people over 65, pregnant women and anyone who already has a serious illness should have the flu vaccine. They also recommend vaccinations for healthcare workers.

To finish up, let me say this: I’m a flu specialist. I research the virus and work closely with flu patients all the time, so I’m constantly around the virus. I’ve had the vaccine. All of my colleagues have had the vaccine. None of us have caught the flu. If we hadn’t had the vaccine, we could have caught the flu each year. There’s no guarantee that vaccination will prevent you from getting the flu, but it won’t hurt you, and there’s a chance it could save your life. How would you feel if someone in your family did not have the vaccine and then became really ill?

Host:   We’ll now have the statement against vaccination from Mark Li.

Mark Li:   Thank you, and thank you, Dr Smith. Let me start by saying that I’m not against all vaccines. Sr Smith is absolutely right that many vaccines work very well and that millions of lives have been saved by vaccination. There’s plenty of good scientific data that proves that. If scientists hadn’t developed the polio vaccine, the world would be very different today. but let me ask you this: has the flu vaccine been properly tested? Have there been proper clinical trials to prove that it works, that it stops infection? Does it really provide prevention of the disease?

For most medicines, the government makes sure that proper tests are carried out, but this isn’t the case with the flu vaccine. There isn’t one single scientific study that proves that this year’s flu vaccine works. The packaging on this flu vaccine clearly states that ‘No controlled trials have been performed that demonstrate that this vaccine causes a reduction in influenza’. It’s here in black and white.

If it says on the package that there’s no proof that it’s an effective prevention, why are we using it? Yes, vaccination can be good, but flu vaccination is just a big experiment, and it may actually be doing more harm than good. If it were proven, then I would consider it.

Host:   Thank you, Mr Li. Dr Smith, do you have anything to add?

Dr Smith:   Thank you. You make some interesting points, Mr Li. It’s true that when the flu emerges every year, it’s a bit different than the year before. When making a vaccine, researchers have to try to figure out how the flu is going to change and adjust it to the new virus. If we waited until the new virus emerges, it would be too late.

So while Mr Li is right – we don’t do clinical trials of the flu vaccine in the way that we do trials for other medicines – that doesn’t mean we aren’t scientific in our methods. I’d definitely like to challenge the idea that there’s no scientific basis for our work. I disagree with Mr Li on that point. Let me tell you more about my work in that area.

We can prove in the laboratory that vaccines can reduce the risk of getting a disease, generally. What we don’t know is exactly how this year’s flu virus will change, but we can use our experience to make a prediction. As for the question of the vaccine being dangerous: it doesn’t contain a live virus, so you definitely can’t get the flu from the vaccine. If people are vaccinated and then happen to become ill, that doesn’t logically mean the vaccine caused the illness. They were most likely in contact with the virus before they were vaccinated.

Mark Li:   Well, I’m sure Dr Smith is a very good doctor, but I think the flu vaccine package I mentioned earlier is clear. It’s obvious that the vaccine hasn’t been properly tested.

The other big concern, of course, is safety. A lot of us believe that the vaccine actually causes people to become ill rather than making them well – so she and I disagree on that point. I’m talking about side effects. Some people have become really ill after being vaccinated. This can by anything from headaches to stomach problems. Do you really want to use a medicine that might make you ill? Supposing you gave your children the vaccine and it made them worse rather than better? Some people also believe that the vaccine may give you the flu, rather than stopping you from catching it. I’ve had patients who were healthy, then had the flu vaccine and became ill. Medicines shouldn’t make us ill. That’s why I’m against the flu vaccine, and that’s why I don’t think anyone at all should have it.

Host:   Thank you both.

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