How we can ensure that Advances in Medicine Benefits All

As a student in School of Public Health I learned one basic fact of life; new ideas in most fields including medicine usually benefit the most advantaged in society the most. This lesson will follow me when I started practicing medicine as a physician in Baltimore City. In the clinics and the wards in which I practiced I discovered some of the many reasons why new ideas were more beneficial for the wealthy, better educated and the well connected; These new medical interventions are usually exRead More…

Advertisements

Is your Hypertension medication causing you problems in the bedroom? By Dr. Leonard Sowah

Doc, is this medication going to make me have problems with erection? I have heard this question so often from men concerned about getting on blood pressure medications that I have learned to respect this very important problem related to medication adherence.  Truthfully though, like all questions that most doctors have to contend with, this one does not have a simple and straight-forward answer. If these answers were that easy I would be looking for a job in another field because I would Read More…

America’s Sports Leagues and Draft System; is it Socialism, Modern day Slavery or both? By Dr. Yaw Berko

If you have an opinion in America you definitely have a label. I have been accused by both black and white patients of being racist. So I guess I am “biracist”. I also believe in limited government so I am against any government interference in what two consenting adults should do, I am pro-choice and like former Speaker Mr. Boehner an ardent advocate for legalisation of cannabis, so I have been accused of being a liberal! As a physician with a good grasp of what pertains in the trenches andRead More…

The Symbol of Renewed White Identity and Common Purpose ?

For many reasons I have my doubts that our current president considers the needs of people like me. This situation has been the source of significant degree of angst and discontent with the president’s leadership. I have a long list of actions and pronouncements by him that suggest to me that Mr. Trump either does not believe non-white Americans deserve the same protections and opportunities as whites. I have had concerns that I may not be very objective in my assessments on Mr. Trump but I keepRead More…

The Sacramento District Attorney’s decision on the Stephon Clark case and implications to African American Safety

In 2002 a University of Colorado Psychology Professor Joshua Correll undertook a study using a first person shooter video game to study police officer decision making with regards to the use of deadly force. In this game police officers were exposed to different individuals holding weapons and innocuous items. The object of this game was to determine how often these officers made the correct decisions i.e. shooting when they face a real peril to their lives. In this game which he later reported Read More…

Alleged Fake Racist Attacks and Other Matters ? By Dr. Yaw Berko

Right after the elections of Barack Obama, the first Black president of the United States, I heard lots of people including some TV analysts declare that America has entered a “post-racial” era where one’s skin colour did not determine his destiny!
With my usual shithole sceptism; I could not help but wonder how such declarations could be made so quickly! Well, when it comes to real social black credentials, Barack is as black as they come. Surely, no husband of Michelle Robinson could be acRead More…

It’s not all about sex and drug use, it’s just life !!

It is not the drug addicts fault that he or she needs to get a fix to just feel normal. Nor is it the fault of a young man that he has gonorrhea. And then what about that guy who gets shot in the belly over a drug deal gone bad. In an ideal world we are all responsible for our choices; but is this always true? This question is what brings out  the obvious complexities in life and the choices that we all have to make sometimes. I have learned by experience to replace judgement with sympathy Read More…

Progress; Four Centuries from the era of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade – By Dr. Teddy Totimeh

Its been 400 years since the first slaves landed in Virginia. Something terrible was born with that first shipload. The consequences of the most inhumane economic policy ever practiced on this earth still persist today.  Whole societies were disrupted and families were torn apart without any regard for the feelings and hopes of those involved. This system challenged the concept of humanity in ways that has eluded any attempts to explain rationally except in economic terms.
Our societies gave peRead More…

WHEN PERSPECTIVE MATTERS! BY DR. YAW BERKO

I look at my life currently and proclaim that truly, America is the greatest country on Earth! I firmly believe my story is only possible in the United States of America! I also give due recognition that I work hard for what I am now. I live in an upper middle class neighbourhood. I am one of two black families that live there. I am an early riser, usually up by 5 AM and so I have 2 hours to spare before I get to work. Some mornings as I lay in bed reminiscing about life, I only wonder what it Read More…

The 9/11 Terrorist made me American, What about you?

In today’s America where white nationalist match in the streets with tiki torches and scream “Jews will not replace us”, immigrant Americans like myself who happen to be non-white can sometimes wonder if we made the right choice. More and more it appears America is still struggling with its identity as the multi-cultural global melting pot that has been marketed worldwide. I may not be completely right on my previous statement. What I need to really say is, some white Americans are struggling wiRead More…

Female Hygiene and Microbial Symbiosis, By Dr. Leonard Sowah

Over the years human history and science had taught us the gospel of the pre-eminence of man and our dominance over all earthly lifeforms. Current learning based on the complexity of human DNA however revealed some surprises. One such surprise was the relative simplicity of the human genome when compared to the complexity of the human biological system. Geneticist and biologists have hitherto been unable to explain this obvious discrepancy until they considered the human biological system in itsRead More…

Of Fairy tales and the Big Steel Wall on the Southern Border – By Dr. Yaw Berko

In turbulent times like this, I am reminded of Shithole folklore in which the frog laments why it has to suffer whenever the lizard eats pepper! This is how the lizard’s song goes; “I don’t want any troubles, and so I mind my own business, so why should my ass burn and my eyes weep when the lizard eats pepper? It’s eerily similar to what happened to some government workers over the past four weeks; Being punished even as they worked Denied their wages for something that MexiRead More…

Ancestry DNA and Racial Identity; Black or White?

Over the past decade the availability of commercial gene sequencing technics that provide information on the approximate geographic sources of our genes have increased significantly. These products are offered by companies like ancestry.com, National Geographic and 23andMe to name a few of the many businesses in that market. The field is rapidly evolving and is dependent on the  availability of software Systems that provide efficient analysis of big data as well as the availability of data on pRead More…

Vaccine Safety and Individual Exemptions from Public Health Required Immunizations; where must we draw the line?

Over the years widespread application of vaccines globally has led to significant reductions in the incidence of many vaccine preventable communicable diseases. One disease smallpox has been completely eradicated from human populations due to strong collaborative efforts across the world. Polio is another disease which could have been eradicated but unfortunately we missed the boat on that one. I feel a little disappointed  on that count because I personally was involved as a medical studenRead More…

Eye witness accounts of events at the border in Tijuana, Mexico, by Amelia Frank-Vitale

These are the words of an anthropologist friend of mine – who has been traveling from Honduras with the caravan – regarding events at the Souther border over the weekend. No media news spin here: “Today was heartbreaking. My own country, the one with the most powerful military in the world, used that power to overwhelm a group of people in search of safety and a better future for themselves and their children. I know, the US is in no way the promised land. But, people deeply believe that their lRead More…

First World Problems, Third World Mentality, by Dr. Yaw Berko

I usually buy gas at Costco, and have established some rapport with most of the attendants at the gas pumps. There is this elderly gentleman I always chat with! He is retired and does this not for the money, but to while away the time! Last week as I was filling my gas tank, he came by very moody more like down! He told me about his cat which had died and wasn’t over it’s passing yet! The cat had suddenly been taken ill and at the vet, the cat was admitted to the ICU! In my shithole mind,Read More…

HEPATITIS C ELIMINATION; WHAT ARE THE BARRIERS?

In a prior post earlier in the year I wrote on this topic. A closer look at the current global situation suggests that whilst the cost of Hepatitis C (HCV) treatment may appear to be a major barrier there are many nations in the world that have managed to overcome that. In this piece I would look at the some of hurdles on the road to global elimination of HCV and how some countries are doing despite these challenges. Below is a World Health Organization graph representing global access to HCV diRead More…

An open letter to Elon Musk’s Ambien doctor, By Jemima Kankam, MD, FAPA

“Dr. Kankam, make sure to tell them not to prescribe Ambien to anyone who complains of not sleeping.”
That was the advice an internal medicine physician gave me when he learnt I was giving a talk to a group of medical residents and medical students.
He was referring to the alarming increase in doctors who automatically prescribe sleep medications to any patient who complains of sleep problems, rather than adequately exploring the root cause of their insomnia. (Ambien was the first approved Read More…

English? Sil vous plait!!, by Dr. Yaw Berko

These days when I hear people say; “I love your accent, where is it from?” I wonder if I should say “thank you” or run for my passport just in case ICE will be in pursuit soon.
My English is as good as my genetics will allow (you see both of my parents come from deep inside the shithole) and with my crooked front teeth, I have no chance of perfecting my American accent! My English is average. My mother speaks very good English! It is odd however for me to speak English with my mother, thRead More…

The Battle of the Sexes: Which sex Achieves Emotional Maturity Earlier?

The battle of the sexes continues to rage on across societies and has taken many casualties over time. In Election 2016 many believe the preference for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton was driven by male preference mixed in with a significant dose of misogyny, as to whether this is true is a matter for debate.
The other day Jennifer Lopez made a comment about the fitness of men below 33 years for relationships and of course had all the youngsters screaming bloody murder. As a 40 something year Read More…

Shithole Folklore: The Tortoise the rope plant and the beautiful bird, by Dr. Yaw Berko

In Election year 2016, forty-two percent of Americans did not vote, a significant proportion of them like myself were recent immigrants from “shithole” countries! I guess most of them believed their votes won’t matter or sway anything here in the United States of America!
Before they make any such fatal decisions not to vote on Tuesday, I shall humbly seek their permission to share with them one of my favourite “shithole”folklores!
Once upon a time in a forest in the Great Village of Kwahu PepRead More…

When Ignorance dares!! By Dr. Yaw Berko

What if I told you I am afraid to attend church services in America today! With the Sutherland Springs and Charleston church massacres, I am now afraid of being shot in church, you would definitely say Yaw is that not an overgeneralisation? And I would agree with you because the vast majority of Christian Evangelicals go to church all week with no adverse incidences!
That’s exactly how I feel when people watch one or two episodes of National Geographic or a documentary on Africa and assume thaRead More…

Breast play and breast cancer risk

In the past few weeks there has been a lot of interest on the breast as different organizations advance various initiatives to help reduce risk of Breast Cancer in Ghana. These activities attracted a lot of attention and have been very successful in raising awareness about this disease.
With all that good publicity there is always the risk that some of the good messages run off the rails as they get transferred from one person to the other. As a physician and a man who is also very much in love Read More…

What can the Saudi Crown Prince learn from Russell Bell?

As any self respecting Baltimore resident I sometimes see business deals in terms of street culture. I must admit though that I am no expert in street culture however a conversation that I had with a Baltimore Street homeboy who claims to have personally known the real Nathan “Bodie” Barksdale the inspiration for the street gangster in the Wire, suggests that depictions of Street Culture in that TV series were very close to reality. I know you are wondering where I am going with this?
I love theRead More…

How my Views on Abortion Evolved! By Dr. Yaw Berko

I believe some issues are definitely first world problems. Women’s reproductive rights, unfortunately falls into that category. I have been amused at how abortion rights has so paralysed this nation to the extent the division it is creating can potentially lead to disastrous consequences on this great nation that needs to be “made great again.”
I was born to a single mother and often wondered what if my mother was so overwhelmed that she felt the need to abort me? What would have happened! NRead More…

A Nation in Pain, By Dr. Leonard Sowah

Over the past two decades the United States has experienced an uncontrollable epidemic of drug related deaths. In 2016 sixty-three thousand Americans died of drug overdoses, two out of three of these deaths were due to opioids. In times like this whilst law enforcement and public health services grapple for solutions most may ask the question; “who is to blame for our current situation?” The simple answer to this question is, there is no single person or group that can be held culpable for this Read More…

Should convicted felons be allowed to vote in elections ?

The whole of last week most of us have been debating or considering one way or the other if an individual accused but never convicted of attempted rape should be allowed to sit on the highest judicial bench in the land. That decision is a really big decision and would eventually be decided by our elected representatives in the senate. I have been thinking in my own way about all these goings ons but would like to look at things from a totally different point of view. Whilst all these discussionsRead More…

Why the US ranks so low in WHO (World Health Organization) Health System Rankings?

A recent World Health Organization ranking of the world’s health systems puts the United States at number 37 between Costa Rica at 36 and Slovenia, first lady Melania Trump’s birth country at number 38. This situation is all the more surprising since the United States spends more than twice as much per capita for health care as the number one country France. The question that most people ask is why we rank so low if we spend so much on healthcare? The answer to this question is not that simple, Read More…

The ludicrousness of “Make America Great Again”

Here in the United States, a group of people has appropriated upon themselves the sole responsibility of determining when America was great, that America had always been great but America needs to be made great again! I call them the “much touted self-righteous holier than thou sole custodians of America’s greatness and patriotism.” For them and only they have the rights to make such determinations! Even more unnerving for me is their inability to reconcile the oxymoronic stance of their dRead More…

Black Brother, are you safe? By Dr. Leonard Sowah

For me my most favorite place in this world is my home, this does not hold true for my son though; he loves hotels. A few days ago I got the shock of my life. My whole world was turned upside down. As a black man in the US your safety is always a big question mark. One comedian D. L Hughley said the most dangerous place for a black man is in the imagination of white people. So my friend if you are white, please I need some help here, please make your imagination much safer for me. In September, Read More…

Secularism and Separation of Church from State; where do we draw the line? by Dr. Leonard Sowah

My country of birth has been described as one of the most religious countries in the world. This is a crown that most Ghanaians wear proudly, whilst others would gladly avoid any mention of that.  On that account one can understand why an elected President of Ghana would consider building a national cathedral to be a priority for his country. This is a national edifice that is supposed to be non-denominational however I wonder what other religious groups think about this venture. On this I do nRead More…

How can we keep our friends and families safer whilst protecting the Second Amendment?

In a prior post I had dreamed of claiming my gun which I rightfully acquired as a citizen of this great nation. Unfortunately life always just appears to get in the way of the greatest ideas and like all great ideas that fateful journey to Arkansas for my gun has still not materialized. However, for some reason I just cannot get this out of my mind and I keep tossing the different scenarios in my head.
Whilst the whole idea of having my own AR-15 does excite me greatly and gets my heart pumping;Read More…

My Updated Obituary, by Dr. Yaw Berko

With the passing of my school mate by several decades Mr. Kofi Annan I had to do some thinking on my own obituary. Everyone wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die, not me! You see for me “it’s the depth of life that matters not the length.” Like the saying goes ”let the moments in life count, don’t just count the moments.”
Sometimes I ask myself what I want people to remember me for. Having lived in all strata of socio-economic spheres, I firmly believe that the destiny of a chRead More…

Generic Truvada; why is it still not available on the US market?

In the US most patients who require PrEP (HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) get coverage for Truvada by their insurance companies. Patients with medicaid coverage have copays ranging from $3 – 25, however individuals with commercial insurance may have to pay up to $800 a month towards medication cost. This has proven to be a barrier for many patients seeking PrEP. Gilead Sciences who owns the patent for Truvada has generous co-pay cards that covers for these costs. This appears to work out for most Read More…

The Joys and Perils of Free Speech, is it really worth it?

More than 20 years ago I entered University of Ghana as a preme student in the Faculty of Science. One important thing about having the opportunity to spend time on the University Campus rather than starting right out in the medical school in Accra was the opportunity afforded us to interact with students pursuing other courses of study.  I was fortunate and ended in the hall of my choice Commonwealth Hall. This dorm had earned itself the reputation of inculcating independent thought and leaderRead More…

Physician burnout by Dr. Dzifa Dey

This article is dedicated to the memory of Prof. Bongani Mayosi, a world renowned South African cardiologist who died by suicide from depression this week.
As I sat in front of the couple trying to be stoic and listen to and diagnose their model teenage child with lupus, at this point I regret being a doctor, the one who had to bear this sad news.
I wish I were not the one sentencing the child to a lifetime of anxiety with a complicated illness. I looked at the couple who knew all too well what Read More…

A Masseuse for a Boob Job

When I look at what is happening around me these days in America, I get deja vu feelings about my childhood. Sometimes it causes me extreme tummy upset and nausea and here is why! My mom and I lived in a compound house in a low middle-class neighborhood called Adabraka in Accra, Ghana! A compound house is where all the families have their individual rooms but share the same toilet and bathroom facilities! There was poverty all around us but my mother ensured I had the best of everything mostly fRead More…

Black is beautiful, or is it? By Dr. Leonard Sowah

As the summer enters its full force and many plan their vacations to the beach and other sunny places, I remembered that not all of us are going to be enjoying the sun equally. There are a few who would avoid the sun like the plague, and this is not from fear of skin cancer. These individuals are worried of the tanning effect of the sun and the resulting darkening of their complexion. Summer life is never easy for those who aspire for the “beauty and allure” of the lily white skin.
Across the woRead More…

Open Letter to Fox 45 News Baltimore by Chris Roberson, NP

Happy Tuesday FB friends and family. I am a sole believer for educating and promoting awareness in Baltimore and beyond about HIV Prevention but I have several issues with this article that was featured on Fox’s webpage written by Marilynn Marchion, AP Chief Medical Writer and also Fox news reporter Patrice Sanders reported this topic this morning, titled “AIDS drugs show more promise for preventing more infections” PrEP is not for AIDS prevention, it’s HIV Prevention and it’s not only for gRead More…

Love, Sex and Life with HIV

She was a model patient in many ways, never missed any appointments, and had done very well health wise. Yes, she had gained a few generous pounds over the years that I had known her but in other ways she was the picture of health. As is always the case when I have patients like her with most medical issues addressed and stable, regular follow visits tended to take a less formal tone and I would make efforts to delve into non health quality of life issues. On one such visit she mentioned her dauRead More…