UCL Health of the Public


Public Health Disrupted

This podcast is about public health, but more importantly, it’s about the systems that need disrupting to make public health better.

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Welcome to the monthly podcast series from UCL Health of the Public presented by Doctor, writer and TV presenter Xand Van Tulleken and community health psychologist, UCL lecturer and self-proclaimed hippie Rochelle Burgess. 

We’re calling this podcast Public Health Disrupted because that’s exactly what we want to do. We are going to be breaking down disciplinary, sectoral and geographic boundaries to really understand the diverse and complex issues impacting our health.

Each month we’ll be joined by activists, scholars, artists, comedians and industry professionals to offer perspectives from the UCL community and beyond. Join us as we challenge the status quo of the public health field, asking what needs to change, why and how to get there. 

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Season 1

Episode 1: What does climate change have to do with public health?

Welcome to Episode 1 of Public Health Disrupted, the brand new podcast from UCL Health of the Public.

This month, hosts Xand and Rochelle are joined by Dominique Palmer - dedicated climate activist, organiser within the UK Student Climate Network and one of Forbes 100 Top UK Environmentalists - and Prof Paul Ekins OBE - Professor of Resources and Environmental Policy and Director of the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources - to explore how the climate is disrupting public health.

Tackling climate change can improve our health, not only through reducing the risks of heatwaves, extreme weather events and poor air quality, but through the mitigation and adaptation strategies we use, bringing benefits for climate, the economy and health.

The effects of the climate crisis are already being felt today, and future projections highlight a devastating risk to the health of the public. Could tackling climate change be the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century, helping us to address inequalities and racism, strengthen the economy and promote global health? 

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Episode 2: Stand-up for public health: how can comedy improve our health?

Join hosts Xand and Rochelle for Episode 2 of Public Health Disrupted, the brand new podcast from UCL Health of the Public.

In this month’s episode, we speak to award-winning comedian and author Laura Lexx and London-based Scottish comedian and UCL academic Dr Matt Winning, to explore how comedy and humour can be used to improve health for all.

Laughter is good for your health - a good laugh can reduce stress. It can also be used as a tool to reduce the stigma of people discussing issues or raise the profile of topics to improve the health of the public. 

In this episode, Laura and Matt discuss their personal experiences of using comedy to address serious topics including mental health, infertility and climate change in their stand-up shows. Both comedians have created a space in the world of comedy to talk about public health issues, but what about the other way around? Is there space for comedy in public health?

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Episode 3: People and Power

Join hosts Xand and Rochelle for the third instalment of Public Health Disrupted, the brand new podcast from UCL Health of the Public.

In public health, we often refer to 'hard to reach' groups, but are we doing enough to listen to them? This month, we speak to the co-founders of Five X More, and UCL academic Dr Carol Rivas, to explore the role of discrimination and structural disadvantage in the health inequalities experienced by different marginalised groups in the UK, and the incredible work they are doing to change this. 

Black women in the UK have a fourfoldhigher risk of dying in pregnancy in comparison to white women. Our first guests, Five X More co-founders Tinuke and Clo, join us to discuss the action they are taking to address this disparity. Five X More is a grassroots campaign dedicated to supporting mothers and empowering black women to make informed choices and advocate for themselves throughout their pregnancies and after childbirth. The campaign is committed to calling on the government and healthcare workers to change the shocking statistics.

Our second guest, Dr Carol Rivas, is an associate professor in social policy and programme evaluation at the IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society. Carol tells us more about her work on so-called hidden disabilities, their intersection with race, ethnicity and migrant status, and on developing tools that empower the voices of marginalised groups.

*When the campaign started, this number was five times more (MBRRACE 2018 & 2019).

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Episode 4: How is law good for your health?

Join hosts Xand and Rochelle for Episode 4 of Public Health Disrupted, the brand new podcast from UCL Health of the Public.

In this month’s episode, we speak to Sir Keir Starmer - Leader of the Labour Party and former human rights lawyer – and Professor Dame Hazel Genn - Professor of Socio-Legal Studies and Vice-Provost International & Advancement - to explore the intersections of law and public health, and how law and legal services can help to mitigate health inequalities.


The coronavirus pandemic, and the wider governmental and societal response, have brought health inequalities into sharp focus. There is growing evidence of bi-directional links between law and health. Social and economic problems with a legal dimension can exacerbate or create ill health, and conversely, ill health can create legal problems. By promoting greater integration of health and legal services, we can have a real impact on the health of the public, and build a healthy future for all.

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Episode 5: How can arts and creativity tackle health inequalities?

Join hosts Xand and Rochelle for Episode 5 of Public Health Disrupted, the brand new podcast from UCL Health of the Public.

The arts and culture sectors are among the hardest hit by the pandemic and lockdown but what would a post-pandemic world look like without art? Is there potential for arts and culture to be a significant part of the post-pandemic recovery?

In this month’s episode, we speak to widely exhibited artist Dr Harold Offeh and UCL Professor of Biology Professor Helen Chatterjee, to explore what arts and creativity have to do with public health, and how they can help tackle health inequalities.

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Episode 6: What have we learned about public health?

Join hosts Xand and Rochelle for the final episode of Season 1 of Public Health Disrupted, the brand new podcast from UCL Health of the Public.

For this final episode, we’re reflecting on what we’ve learned about public health over the past six months. Hosts Xand and Rochelle explore the episodes we’ve recorded so far that show what needs disrupting in public health, and look back at what our wonderful guests have been doing to shake up the system.

Featuring clips from interviews with Prof Paul Ekins, Dominique Palmer, Laura Lexx, Dr Matt Winning, Tinuke Awe and Clo Abe, Dr Carol Rivas, Sir Kier Starmer, Prof Dame Hazel Genn, Dr Harold Offeh and Prof Helen Chatterjee.

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If there’s a question you’d like our hosts or guests to answer, email us at healthofpublic@ucl.ac.uk or tweet @UCLHealthPublic using the hashtag #PublicHealthDisrupted.