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…

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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? By Leonard Sowah

In my home we always have an ongoing fight on the ideal temperature setting for 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 remembRead 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, By Dr. Leonard Sowah

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…

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…

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 soonRead 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…

Racialized Policing and The Fear That Kills Blacks in America, By Dr. Leonard Sowah

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…