Should We Be Doing Virginity Checks?

I spent all of Friday making the video below after hearing rapper T.I. say he had accompanied his daughter now 18 years on each birthday to a gynecologist to check if she is still a virgin.
I have heard so much ignorant comments on this subject that I had to make this 6 minute long video to dispel myths and misconceptions surrounding the hymen as well as the dangers virginity checks have on women everywhere in the world. For those who don’t have time to watch it, here are the main points: Read More…

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Can we allow women to control their own bodies? By Dr. Leonard Sowah

The examination room gets cleaned at least 3 times a day however the ever pungent smell of blood appears to defy all the efforts of our ever zealous cleaning staff. The smell was strong and overpowering. Even as I entered the curtained area of the room which afforded some privacy for our clients I could tell there was something different about this lady’s condition. This was not the run of the mill incomplete and threatened abortions that flood our emergency room all day long.
The malodorous aroRead More…

Sex for Grades Controversy in Two Major Universities in West Africa, Recommendations for University of Ghana, By Emefa Gadze

A BBC report on sexual harassment and some blatant trading of sex for grades has raised a lot of concern within different levels of communities in Ghana and Nigeria. A Nigerian professor and pastor has been suspended from his church and university on this issue. In Ghana a lecturer of the University of Ghana cited in this report also faces suspension.
Whilst this has only been reported in University of Ghana and University of Lagos when these things happen we must as a society accept full responRead More…

How Worried Should We Be About Bernie’s Heart Attack? By Dr. Leonard Sowah

This week the Senator from Vermont and Democratic Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders had a heart attack whilst on the Campaign trail. Such events in US Presidential campaigns are usually very major issues however fortunately or unfortunately Bernie’s heart attack was relegated to back pages of the political news on account of issues related to Trump’s impeachment inquiry.
Sander’s ended up in a hospital in Nevada and spent two days in hospital getting out on Friday, October 4th 2019. On his disRead More…

The Opioid Epidemic, Are Pharmaceutical Companies Responsible? By Dr. Leonard Sowah

Today in the United States many families, cities and communities are going through significant turmoil, heartache and despair from the scourge of opioid abuse and addiction. This epidemic which ran amok and unchecked for about 2 decades is pervasive and permeates many aspects of our lives. As a physician in Maryland in 2008/2009 I had heard and read about addicts and dealers in Appalachia traveling to poorly regulated pain clinics in Florida to stock up on Oxycontin. This situation had been enabRead More…

The Rise of Designer Synthetic Cannabinoids, By Dr. Leonard Sowah

Sometime in the 1990s a Harvard educated chemist funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse worked with his colleagues to synthesize compounds that could stimulate the endocannabinoid system. John William Huffman and his colleagues were trying to find an effective cannabinoid that stimulates cannabinoid receptors better than THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) the active euphoria creating hallucinogen in marijuana. This research it was hoped will help in understanding the effects of the cannabinoid rRead More…

The Ghanaian Health System: Hoping for A Better Tomorrow Without Trusting in Hope, Dr. Teddy Totimeh

When I saw the CT scan my heart sank. The beautiful symmetry that the brain has, the different shades that white and grey matter imprint on the LCD screen were gone. The lines that divide the electrical generating cells, from the transmitting cells, were gone. This was the aftermath of battle, and the brain cells had lost the ultimate war. And now even as the person’s heart and lungs worked together in the unison that is life’s rhythm, the brain was gone. Life had ended. And there was nothinRead More…

E-cigarettes and The Vaping Craze, Is this Safer Than Smoking Tobacco? By Dr. Leonard Sowah

As a physician taking care of a largely HIV positive population in Baltimore, Maryland in the early 2010s, I was surprised to learn that many of my patients who were about my age or a few years older than myself were coming down with strokes and heart attacks. I still remember one gentleman who in his 40s had already had 3 heart attacks and was fortunate to live to tell the tale.
The point of this short tale is that tobacco use is still by far the commonest cause of preventable deaths in most coRead More…

A Little Neglect May Breed Mischief, By Nana Dadzie Ghansah

Robert Mugabe aka Uncle Bob died last week at the ripe old age of 95. He followed a long list of African leaders who died abroad where they fled to seek treatment after neglecting the medical facilities in their home countries. Mugabe died in the Gleneagles Hospital in Singapore. Over the years, Singapore is where he went for his physicals and treatment while the common Zimbabwean had to make do with the terrible healthcare services at home.
Anytime one of these leaders dies in a hospital abroadRead More…

Maternal Mortality in Rural US and Ghana are there any Similarities? By Dr. Leonard Sowah

As a medical student in Ghana I still clearly remember trips made with my colleagues to parts of rural Volta Region in Ghana to learn about the impact of training of Traditional Birth Attendants on maternal mortality. This experience imprinted in my mind how simple interventions can impact health outcomes. In many parts of Ghana most people live at least a half days walk to the nearest health center. Most of these health centers are under the ministry of health and have facilities for delivery aRead More…

The Silent Killers, Is This Just a Myth? By Dr. Leonard Sowah

Talk of the silent killer has many people worried specifically related to sudden deaths. In health though silent killers abound and the anxiety related to their impact on our lives is not one that is easily assuaged. In my own life, over the course of about 5 years the numbers of friends, family members, and old classmates said to have died suddenly without any obvious antecedent illness continues to grow. It appears to me this situation is more common among friends and family living in Ghana aRead More…

The Public Health Implications of Current Title X Funding Restrictions

Last Monday August 19th 2019 the Planned Parenthood Federation of America made a decision to withdraw from Title X funding. This program which is older than most of us was enacted by President Richard Nixon as Public Health Law 91-572 a part of the Public Health Services Act in 1970. The law passed the Senate unanimously and the house voted 298 to 32 to send this Bill on to President Nixon for his signature.
Judging by the voting record this law was very popular in 1970 so why would Planned PareRead More…

Faith and Government, How Do We Achieve Balance Whilst Respecting All Our Faith Traditions? By Dr. Leonard Sowah

I grew up in a Christian family so I understand the expectations of a life lived for the honor of God. I understand the concept of Christians supporting each other to good works. I believe in the need for people of faith to pray for the good of their nation and its leaders.
In my life through I have seen and experienced some Christian traditions that go further than what I believed. I have heard and been instructed on the ideology of taking by force in Christian proselytizing which I reject. I hRead More…

Rewriting The New Colossus, By Dr. Leonard Sowah

Emma Lazarus a poet and activist wrote the poem on the plaque of the Statue of Liberty. The words say;
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
These worlds welcomed immigrants to the United States from 1903 to 1954 when Ellis Island served as immigrant inspectionRead More…

The Good Guy with a Gun, By Nana Dadzie Ghansah

Yesterday, a 20-year-old armed man gave Walmart shoppers in Springfield, MO a horrible scare. It is unclear what was his motive for walking into the Walmart around 4 pm yesterday dressed in combat fatigues, body armor and armed with a tactical rifle, a handgun and more than 100 rounds of ammunition.
After the shootings a few days ago in El Paso and Dayton, a lot of people are on edge.
He was later arrested by an off-duty firefighter who had a gun and this is being hailed by those who are againstRead More…

A Tribute to Toni Morrison, a Giant in American Contemporary Literature, By Nana Dadzie Ghansah

Toni Morrison is one of those really great writers whose books I found so difficult to read because of the subjects they explored. Her work touched on the African-American experience – especially that of the black woman – so starkly that often, the sympathy I felt for her characters overwhelmed me. Full disclosure – stories and movies about slavery, apartheid, Jim Crow era, the holocaust…even what the Palestinians are going through now, depress me to the point where I just want to withdraw iRead More…

Why I Still Wonder, Man The Ultimate Miracle of Nature, By Dr. Teddy Totimeh

The human body is an ecosystem of value creation and dissemination. It is a collection of cells with an unimaginable capacity to achieve. The scope of what this collection of cells is able to create is mind blowing. To look around and see all that has been built by humanity, is to amaze oneself with the extent of what is possible. There is really no limit to what a human being can achieve. On the contrary there is also no limit to the extent to which one can fail.
How cells can harness simple moRead More…

America Does Not Have a Race or Gun Problem We Have a Leadership Problem, By Dr. Leonard Sowah

Last weekend, we had two mass shootings with a total death toll of 29. One of these shootings was in El Paso and is being judged a hate crime based on a manifesto posted by the shooter about 20 minutes before the incident. The shooter in El Paso, TX shot and killed 20 people in a Walmart used by Americans and Mexicans who cross over to shop. The other shooter killed 9 people in a popular club district at 1am on Sunday morning in Dayton, Ohio.
Anytime such shootings occur we hear the same words bRead More…

The Socialist Agenda, The Bogeyman Who is Coming to Get Us All, By Leonard Sowah

As a child I loved to garden and actually still do. One reason why I love gardening is the joy I get from watching plants grow and die. As a lazy gardener though I have learned to appreciate the beauty of perennials. Afterall, what is better than planting a flower once and having it come back to life year after year. My perennials except for losing their deer resistant traits overtime tend to do very well. I am however still wondering if the deer resistant feature was  designed to be lost just Read More…

Colon Cancer Prevention, Do we Really Know Enough? By Dr. Leonard Sowah

I recently visited my primary care doctor after more than a year. At the end of the visit he gave me some encouraging feedback. My weight was stable, he may be right there but I know the weight is not everything since my belt has advanced about a hole since my last visit. He mentioned that my blood pressure was stable and normal in spite of a positive family history of hypertension. Then he asked about my next birthday and I knew he was moving on to the dreaded territory of colonoscopies becauseRead More…

Patriotism Redefined, By Dr. Yaw Berko

One of my favourite Bible stories appears in the book of Luke. An earnest lawyer who had tried to set up Jesus asked a question to justify himself! He asked Jesus “who is my neighbour?” Jesus then told the parable of the Good Samaritan, a curveball of a description of neighbourliness that astounded the lawyer!
In modern America, the word ”patriotism” is thrown around so much I have begun to wonder what the definition of patriotism is? As a black man, I feel “patriotism” is bandied abRead More…

Anti-Immigrant Sentiment in The US, Is This Really New? By Nana Dadzie Ghansah

Besides descendants of the original Native American inhabitants of this land, there is hardly an American alive today who does not trace his or her origin to another continent. And yet throughout the history of this great country, some established residents have despised immigrants and blamed the newcomers for all the societal ills of the day.
Even the venerable Benjamin Franklin did not take lightly to the Germans coming in the 1700s. In 1775 he wrote, “A Colony of Aliens, who will shortly beRead More…

Ghana’s Healthcare System; An Obvious Tug of War, By Dr. Teddy Totimeh

There is a certain reality that one must accept as a healthcare worker in Ghana. There are certain truths to be assumed. In our environment healthcare is a poorly managed space. It’s a Wild West on this side of the economic divide. There are some good aspects, daily threatened by the bad. This is my reality, there are the patients who can not afford what we can provide. And then the government which cannot afford the staff to provide the range of medical care that people need. And the staff thRead More…

Can You Make America Whole Again? By Dr. Leonard Sowah

In the past two and a half years Americans have been subjected to a barrage of tweets, statements and policies that could only serve one purpose, divide us along racial, religious and ideological lines. Our President says he is doing all these to make America great again but in the meantime he is continuously widening the gulf that has developed between us.
My primary question to him is very simple. In Africa there is a proverb that says “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far,Read More…

Is it Really Un-African? By Dr. Nana Dadzie Ghansah

Remarks the President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, made during an interview on Al-Jazeera recently on the lack of gay rights in Ghana, has set the whole country into a frenzied discussion about the issue.
Click the link to listen to Akuffo-Addo’s interview on Al-Jazeera
Both sides of the debate have legitimate concerns but one argument from the anti-gay crowd piqued my interest.
It is the point that homosexuality is un-African.
With my curiosity tickled, and in the spirit of the acquisRead More…

Is Breakfast The Most Important Meal of The Day? Dr. Leonard Sowah

Most of us grew up with this adage burned into our brains. We have been advised to start the day with a good breakfast. Breakfast food companies like Kelloggs have used this in marketing messages for years. With concerns about Kelloggs involvement in some of the Food Science Research things can sometimes appear murky. When your mechanic says you need a car maintenance visit every week you have every reason to question if he has your interest or his interest at heart.
This situation has caused meRead More…

The Color of Justice, By Dr. Nana Dadzie Ghansah

“My work with the poor and the incarcerated has persuaded me that the opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice.”
– Bryan Stevenson from his book “Just Mercy”
By the time the verdict in the trial of OJ Simpson for the murder of his estranged wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman, was read in Superior Court in LA on October 5, 1995, he had spent upwards of $9 million on attorneys. His “Dream Team” of defense attorneys included stalwarts like JohnnRead More…

American Plutocracy and The Myth of Trickle Down Economics, By Dr. Leonard Sowah

Anyone who has any experience with money knows that it is not subject to the laws of gravity. In reality it has a tendency to move up the economic ladder from the least financially stable to the economic giants of the day. Most wealthy individuals recognize this yet being human they do not want to take any chances lest economic resources flow up from the masses to other wealthy pockets.
Thus the greed and political power of the plutocrats of the day has become the most destabilizing factor in ouRead More…

The Legacy of Slavery and its Impact on the Exercise of Freedom in the United States, By Dr. Leonard Sowah

The initial agricultural economy of the Americas was very much dependent on cheap labor. This was initially achieved with black African and white mostly Irish indentured servants. While white indentured servants eventually regained their freedom; over time captured African Slaves would provide a continuous supply of cheap labor for the development of the young nation.
The first Africans who arrived in the Virginia Colonies came on an English ship flying a Dutch flag in 1619. They were about 20 mRead More…

Happy 243rd Birthday to the USA, By Dr. Nana Dadzie Ghansah

Of the 355 Tuskegee Airmen who served as single-engine combat pilots during WW II, only 12 were alive as of the end of May this year.
One of them is Lt. Col. Harry Stewart. He flew 43 combat missions with the 332nd Fighter Group known as the Red Tails. On Easter Sunday 1945, he shot down 3 long-nosed Focke-Wulf Fw 190s, the best fighters in the German Luftwaffe. For this feat, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
He was born on July 4, 1924, and thus turns 95 today.
A few days ago, he Read More…

African Men Cry in the Dark, By Dr. Leonard Sowah

As a child growing up in Ghana, this saying was burned into my brain “bεεma nsu” a Twi phrase which means ‘real men don’t cry’. That was the ethos and the ideology of life that I grew up with. One of my favorite books “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe epitomized this belief in its main character, Okonkwo. Reading this popular novel by the Nigerian writer only served to confirm my belief in the African Machismo behind the refrain “bεεma nsu”. I can still remember Chapter 7 of that book verRead More…

Kigali, Rwanda; Showing What is Possible in Africa with Responsible Leadership – By Dr. Teddy Totimeh

I have been in Kigali the last three days, in the presence of leaders and influencers that only the Eisenhower Fellows can pull together. It has been an insightful 3 days in a city that has shown that Africa can have a future, we just have to create it ourselves. I heard submissions on the future of work, technology and governance on our continent. I came away from this beautiful city hopeful, educated and impatient for progress. I have seen and heard a President talk about progress, not in the Read More…

The thermostat wars, is this another case of Men are from Mars and Women from Venus?

In my home we always have an ongoing fight on the ideal temperature setting of our thermostat. After several ups and downs we have settled on 70˚F but every so often I come home and realize the house is feeling like an oven only to find the thermostat set at 80˚F. Even for a Ghanaian who grew up in Accra just a few degrees North of the Equator that is a total disaster. I cannot function at that temperature and more importantly I just cannot sleep well at such high temperatures.
I still remembeRead More…

Abortion Policy in America Today, How do we Address Faith in this Politically Charged Debate?

For some reason the current political climate in the US is prone to driving issues into two extremes that rarely ever mirrors anybody’s genuine position. In the past few months many states in the US have come up with multiple laws which limit access to safe legal abortions for American women. Some of these laws like the recent Alabama law are very restrictive and go as far as to outlaw abortions in situations such rape and incest. One other concerning feature is that most of these laws are beingRead More…

Recreational and Medical Marijuana use Today, Are we ready for the change? By Dr. Leonard Sowah

In the past decade several US states have enacted laws legalizing marijuana use to various degrees. Whilst these changes are very welcome federal laws at this time still classifies marijuana as an illegal substance.  There are still many individuals doing jail time for various violations of marijuana statutes in both federal and state prisons across the country. In my medical practice I have used the legal marijuana derivative Marinol to treat various ailments but I have not recommended smokingRead More…

Healing from prejudice, discrimination and abuse of all kinds

In a previous post I wrote about my evolving experience with the LGBTQ community. Whilst being a black man from Africa did help me understand what it may feel like to be gay or queer, it was also a great drag. Anyone who has had any type of interaction with black Africans or specifically Ghanaians would know we are a very religious people. Our form of religion usually Christian for me rarely has any room for open discussion on sexuality. I actually have a dear friend back in Ghana whose first quRead More…

LACK OF MEDICAID EXPANSION, RURAL HOSPITAL CLOSURES AND RURAL HIV EPIDEMIC – ARE THESE RELATED IN ANY WAY?

An analysis of CMS (Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services) data by Navigant suggests that about 20% of US rural hospitals are at risk of closure, this data does not consider all the hospitals that have already closed down. Researchers used a benchmark of an average 1.4% operating margin over the past three years, 78.5 days cash on hand and 49.8% debt-to-capitalization ratio to determine financial viability. Based on this benchmark, 23 – 50% of rural hospitals in states like  West VirgRead More…

Homelessness and Inequality Across the US

In a recent news article I read about disputes in the city of San Francisco over the location of a shelter for the homeless. As a physician who started his career in the United States working for Healthcare for the Homeless in Baltimore, Maryland this issue is not alien to me. Whilst services for the poor and disadvantaged do abound in the United States and more than $400 billion dollars of donations annually fund these charitable organizations there is always a challenge when one attempts to buRead More…

Escaping Domestic Abuse: The Reality by Rasheeda Adams

A lot of women in abusive situations are shocked at the answer I give them when they call me to ask what to do about their situation.
I simply tell them “ it’s your decision to make”, but what I can do for you, is be your listening ear and your sounding board, for when you’re ready to start taking care of yourself and possibly your life”
I say that not because I have chosen to be harsh, I say it because nobody can take a victim of abuse away from the situation until they are ready to fRead More…

What can Big Pharma learn from Coca Cola?

Growing up in Ghana I always knew Coca Cola was a Ghanaian Company and would have continued to believe that until Coca Cola refused to honor economic sanctions on the Apartheid South African government. The big Beverage Company continued business in South African amid protests in Africa and pressure from Black Activist in the US. That was when I learned that Coca Cola Company was a big multinational Company with subsidiaries across the world. Coca Cola is so good at this local integration that mRead More…