(CNN)In countries ravaged by conflict, providing international medical expertise on the ground can be almost impossible.
By Susie East, for CNN
“Like being in the room”
By Madina Toure
St. Albans residents who grew up with the late Phife Dawg, a member of renowned hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest, braved the rain to show their respect for him at a public memorial hosted by the group at St. Albans Memorial Park Monday morning.
Despite the rainy weather, nearly 200 fans trekked to St. Albans from all over the borough and the city, with some fans even coming from out of state.
Malik Taylor, known by his stage name Phife Dawg, died March 22 in California at the age of 45 due to complications from diabetes. He was raised in St. Albans.
St. Albans resident Carleene Cannon, 48, had known Phife Dawg since he was around 9 years old. She also knew honorary group member Jarobi White.
She has fond memories of Phife, recalling that he had a big crush on her cousin.
“As we got older and as A Tribe Called Quest became more of an entity, with everybody just grooving to the music, he would come off the road and I would go visit him at his grandmother’s house…He gave me my copy of ‘Low End Theory’ (the group’s second album) and leaked it,” Cannon said. “And my son’s name is Jaden Malik Lake.”
Steve McDaniel, 41, also of St. Albans, said he and Phife spent a lot of time playing basketball and football in St. Albans Park.
“When they (his friends and Phife) were in high school—I was younger than them, I was in junior high school—I would meet them in the colosseum on Jamaica Avenue and we would go down to the food court and sit there and bug out with a lot of the kids we grew up with from back here on Sayres Avenue,” McDaniel said.
Another friend of Phife’s, Norman Bennett, 37, who lives next door to McDaniel, referred to him as his “little big bro” because Bennett was younger but taller. They bonded over their common heritage: Bennett’s father is from Trinidad and so is Phife’s family.
“Everyone would beat on the (picnic) table, kick rhymes, something crazy was going on… we played football, baseball, kickball,” Bennett said.
St. Albans resident Keith Taylor, 42, also a friend of Phife’s, echoed similar sentiments.
“Malik was a good dude,” Taylor said. “We all grew up together so we all seem similar. He loved sports and he got into the music thing and kind of went off on his way.”
The first 200 fans who arrived at the memorial received a Phife Dawg T-shirt as well as a ticket to attend an invite-only tribute concert for the musician at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem Tuesday.
Andres Titus, known by his stage name Dres, is one-half of Black Sheep, a hip-hop duo from Queens that started in the 1990s. He had known Phife Dawg since 1989, describing him as a “dope (cool) person” who “had a moral compass.”
The processional for Phife Dawg’s funeral drove by the park along Sayres Avenue and 172nd Street. Jarobi White waved at fans from a car
There are currently two efforts underway to honor the singer and the group. One calls for Linden Boulevard between 192nd and 193rd streets to be co-named A Tribe Called Quest Boulevard—where the video for the first single from the group’s second album was shot—while the other calls for St. Albans Park to be renamed “Malik ‘Phife Dawg’ Taylor Park.”
The article was published in the TimesLedger Newspapers.
Like many of you, I was greeted by sad news this morning. Phife Dawg of the legendary group, A Tribe Called Quest, had passed away from medical complications caused by diabetes. He was only 45 years old. Phife had been battling diabetes mellitus type 1 since he was first diagnosed in 1990, the year that Tribe’s first album dropped.
Phife’s condition was hereditary (his mother had diabetes) and it was exacerbated by his hectic touring schedule which caused him to eat large amounts of fast food. In a 2010 interview , he said, “I was still waking up to a glass of Quik, you know what I’m saying? Oreo cookies for breakfast, just stupid shit. It didn’t make it any better that we were on the road performing, eating KFC, McDonalds, shit like that and I was going hard when we was younger”. At some point, his kidneys began to fail and in 2004 he started dialysis. Eventually, his wife became his donor and gifted him with one of her kidneys. He drastically improved his eating habits and seemingly regained control over his diabetes before A Tribe Called Quest’s reunion in 2008. Sadly, that wasn’t enough to prolong his life into old age.
His passing reminded me of the death of Patrice O’Neal, one of my favorite comedians. Patrice was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in his early twenties and died at 41.
I’m 37-years old now, and thankfully, in good health. So as far as I’m concerned, these guys were way too young to die. Unfortunately, diabetes is one of the most life-threatening health problems plaguing the Black community today. Over ninety percent of people who have the disease suffer from type 2 diabetes. This is largely the result of excess body weight and lack of physical exercise. According to the American Diabetes Association, Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. Only five percent of people with diabetes have this form of the disease.
Compared to the general U.S. population, African Americans are disproportionately affected by diabetes. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health (OMH)website, “African Americans are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes as non-Hispanic whites. In addition, they are more likely to suffer complications from diabetes, such as end-stage renal disease (ESRD) and lower extremity amputations. Although African Americans have the same or lower rate of high cholesterol as their non-Hispanic white counterparts, they are more likely to have high blood pressure.”
End-stage renal disease (ESRD) signifies that the kidneys are barely or no longer functioning after about 10-20 years of chronic kidney disease. Without dialysis or a kidney transplant, ESRD leads to death. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ESRD related to diabetes is about 170% higher in black men than in White men and about 131% higher in black women than in White women.
Diabetes isn’t exclusive to the Western world though. This health condition is also becoming more prevalent in African countries. A report by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) states that the African continent counts approximately 13.6 million people with diabetes. Nigeria has the highest number of people with diabetes(with approximately 1.2 million people affected).
In Ghana, a large percentage of the population suffers from type 2 diabetes. According to Elizabeth Denyoh, president of Ghana’s National Diabetes Association, the country has no national diabetes program. Denyou said, “In Ghana, most people diagnosed with diabetes are the poorest of the poor. There is a lot of Type 1 diabetes in rural areas. ” Type 1 diabetes, although still rare in many areas, is becoming increasingly more prevalent. IGT (Impaired Glucose Tolerance) is also becoming problematic in many African countries. This counters the prevailing myth that diabetes is solely a disease of the wealthy west.
In numerous interviews (3 min mark), Phife mentioned how he used his celebrity as a platform to raise diabetes awareness. He said that he would love it if he could inspire others with the condition and let them know that they can still achieve their dreams and desires despite the hardships that come with diabetes. Like Phife, there are many other well known individuals who have been affected by diabetes directly or indirectly. Many are using their popularity as a platform to raise awareness.
For example, Lil Jon raised money the American Diabetes Association during his stint on The Apprentice. His now deceased mother had type 2 diabetes and suffered a stroke while they were the taping a season of the show. He went on to raise $195,000 for the cause.
Dennis Coles aka Tony Starks aka Ghostface Killah of the Wu Tang Clan, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1996. In a 2005 interview about his condition, he said “I didn’t know what that shit was.” He went to two doctors before it was detected. “My sugar was mad high, but it was a little relief to know what it was.” His doctor prescribed insulin along with a healthier regiment. “That meant putting down the blunts and cutting back on the alcohol and sweets.” It’s about discipline”, said Ghost. “You can quit the cigarettes and all that other shit but as a diabetic you fiend for sweets. When you sitting at the crib staring at them Oreos, you gonna fuck around and go in. You want those Fruity Pebbles and all that shit. I had to learn how to just chill, exercise, drink protein shakes and monitor my sugar.”
Let me be clear: this isn’t some pathological problem that’s simply impacting our community. Black people are dying and developing poor health, largely because of racism and oppressive systems. There are virtual food deserts in many Black communities across the U.S. Young people consume high amounts of soda and candy and other crap. There are rarely any healthy food options, let alone affordable options in many of our communities.
Most of us know someone or have someone close to us who are diabetic, if we’re not diabetic ourselves. Eating habits are hard to break, especially considering the fact that sugar is literally in everythingwe consume. The impact of everyday racism and classism have a way of negatively impacting our immune systems and the physiological functions of our bodies. But to know better is to do better. Let’s all do what we can to prevent another loss like this. If you want to know about some Black owned businesses that are committed to health and wellness, check out our previous post.
To address this growing epidemic, the American Diabetes Association has created programs and materials to increase awareness of the seriousness of diabetes and its complications among African Americans. Learn more here.
The article was published in Shoppe Black.
03/21/2016 05:36 pm ET
Editor, HuffPost Live
With about 1.2 million people living with HIV in the United States, there’s no reason the conversation about the issue should be slowing down. Actor Jussie Smollett, who has been an outspoken advocate for HIV/AIDS prevention, delivered that message loud and clear in a conversation with HuffPost Live last week.
The “Empire” star warned against considering HIV/AIDS to be a problem from “yesteryear.”
“We get attached to these hashtags and it becomes this social media fad,” he said. “But it’s almost as if HIV/AIDS stopped being the thing to talk about before social media came around. We’ve gotta bring that back because we’re not done.”
In recent years, the estimated incidence of HIV has remained stable at about50,000 new HIV infections annually, but gay men and African Americans are still most affected. With new infections still occurring, the actor stressed the importance of knowing one’s HIV status and being open about it.
“Getting tested, knowing your status, being responsible for yourself and other people is so important — being honest with yourself, number one, so you can be honest with everyone else,” he said.
Smollett also shared words of optimism for those who have been infected and are seeking proper treatment.
“We have to remember that it’s not a death sentence. You can live with it and you can live a beautiful, wonderful life with it, but it’s also something that we can prevent,” he said.
Watch the full HuffPost Live conversation with Jussie Smollett here.
(CNN)A new breakthrough in cancer research could lead to a novel form of cancer treatment — one that is highly specialized for each patient.
By Holly Yan, CNN CNN’s Dominique Heckels contributed to this report.
Think of it this way: A patient’s cancer cells all start off with the same tree trunk, but then grow different kinds of branches. The new research shows certain immune cells can “chop the tree at the trunk rather than just pruning the branches,” Dr. Sergio Quezada told CNN.
For years, one of the biggest obstacles in fighting cancer has been the fact that a tumor’s cancer cells are not all the same.
“The tumor is an evolving mass. Mutations change here and there. Mutations in one area of the tumor are usually different from mutations in other parts of the tumors,” Quezada said.
In a statement to Cancer Research UK, he likened the fight against cancer to police chasing a wide array of criminals.
“The body’s immune system acts as the police trying to tackle cancer, the criminals. Genetically diverse tumours are like a gang of hoodlums involved in different crimes — from robbery to smuggling. And the immune system struggles to keep on top of the cancer — just as it’s difficult for police when there’s so much going on,” he said.
“Our research shows that instead of aimlessly chasing crimes in different neighborhoods, we can give the police the information they need to get to the kingpin at the root of all organized crime — or the weak spot in a patient’s tumor — to wipe out the problem for good.”
What this means for treatment
Quezada told CNN this discovery could lead to two kinds of treatment:
1) Making customized vaccines to target the core mutations in each patient.
2) Identifying which immune cells, or T-cells, can fight off those core mutations, then multiplying those T-cells in a lab.
Quezada said the customized vaccines would be “the ultimate personalized form of therapy.”
“This would mean basically taking a cancer tumor, finding the trunk, and then designing a vaccine (to) inject in the patent,” he said.
“The second approach is to ‘fish’ these cells — T-cells — that recognize the trunk, expand them outside the patient” and inject them in the body.
Quezada said no human trials have started using either approach in light of the study, but said he hopes trials will begin within five years.
But the discovery doesn’t mean all cancer patients will be cured soon. The potential for new treatment also has several limitations.
First is “the speed at which you can generate personalized therapy,” Quezada said. “Some cancers go really fast.”
Developing a customized vaccine, for example, could take more time than a cancer patient has.
Second, it would be expensive. Quezada said he doesn’t have an estimate on how much either type of treatment would cost, but given the highly customized nature of each, it could be extremely expensive.
“That’s going to be an important point of this discussion,” he said.
Finally, such treatments would likely work better for some types of cancer than others. Quezada said he believes lung cancer and melanoma would be the most likely to respond well to such treatment.
A massive collaboration
A team of 36 international researchers worked on the study, which included scientists from the London, the United States, Denmark and Germany. The study was funded by Cancer Research UK and the Rosetrees Trust.
“It’s the most amazing collaboration I’ve ever worked on, Quezada said. “It’s been an amazing roller coaster.”
The next roller coaster will be determining when patients could receive the treatments — and learning how well they might work.
|Source: Xinhua 2016-01-15 20:45:33|
The director of Sino-Guinea Friendship Hospital in the capital Conakry, Dr. Fode Ibrahim Camara, made the remarks in an interview with Xinhua on Thursday just after the World Health Organization declared free of Ebola in Liberia.
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa had been pronounced over with Liberia’s end of the virus, however hours later a new case was confirmed in Sierra Leone which had been declared Ebola-free on Nov. 7, 2015.
Guinea was declared Ebola-free on Dec. 29, 2015.
The current 10-strong Chinese medical team in Guinea is the 24th mission sent by China to the country since 1968. They arrived in Guinea in August 2014 and serves a two-year term.
Camara said the 24th Chinese medical team had come to Guinea at “the most difficult time” when the Ebola epidemic was at its peak, when most people were leaving Guinea and most businesses were closing down.
“This support shows that our forefathers were right to establish the cooperation with China, which has continued to grow stronger since 1960s,” Camara said.
He hailed the good working relationship between Guinean and Chinese doctors in battling Ebola virus.
Camara said the Chinese government contributed effectively to the fight against Ebola in Guinea.
The Chinese government was the first to come to Guinea’s aid, providing all the necessary material and financial support in the war against Ebola, he said.
China was the first country to provide aid for Ebola-hit countries after the outbreak was reported in March 2014. Guinea received the first Chinese supplies in April 2014.
Camara said China also helped to train over 1,500 health workers who engaged in the fight against Ebola, both in Conakry and other parts of the country.
The 23th Chinese medical team in Guinea, which returned in August 2014, helped to fight against Ebola for six months. Its 19 members have been lauded by the country for their contributions.
As of November 2014, China has offered aid worth 750 million yuan (about 113.77 million dollars) and sent thousands of medical personnel to Ebola-hit countries.
Ebola has killed more than 11,000 people mostly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia since December 2013.
Sometimes knowing the facts leads to surprising solutions.
HIV transmission from mother to child is a major, and preventable, factor in the ongoing prevalence of AIDS in Africa. While transmission rates are below 5% with effective prenatal treatment, the World Health Organization says they can range up to 45% without treatment—unfortunately, a common situation in the developing world.
Postnatal testing, then, is often vital in spotting infections in newborns, and treating them. But even as testing has become more accessible in Africa, it has remained slow, with devastating results—untreated infant HIV is usually fatal within a year. The problem isn’t just the time needed for the actual tests, but also the unpredictable ways that samples traveled from clinics to labs.
To tackle the problem, Mozambique brought in logistics expert Jérémie Gallien, a professor at the London Business School. Before looking at health systems, Gallien had consulted on retail logistics, including for the fast-fashion chain Zara and a dominant online seller he prefers not to name. And he’s found common ground between selling sweaters and saving lives.
Gallien says the basic conundrum of medical planning is the same as that in retail—striking the right balance between instant gratification and system-wide agility. When a retailer puts all its stock in stores instead of distribution centers, or a medical authority puts all of its drugs in clinics instead of a central facility, they can sell or treat patients at those locations much more quickly. But if they bet wrong on demand, moving materials where they’re needed becomes much more challenging.
Balancing those concerns comes down to understanding a specific problem, and in Mozambique, Gallien, with co-authors Sarang Deo and Jónas Oddur Jónasson, found a surprising answer. To speed the return of test results, they recommended that testing facilities, instead of dispersed, be highly centralized. While slightly slowing average sample transportation times, the added efficiency in test processing would more than make up for it.
That conclusion was based on tons of data, gathered through partnerships with the Clinton Health Access Initiative and the National Institute of Health in Mozambique. “We got access to a data set of more than a year of shipments from clinics to the labs, then back, time stamped,” says Gallien. That was more than 30,000 records, also including information on patient outcomes and engagement.
Those records let Gallien get a precise but broad-scale view of transit times, which averaged 10 days.
“Increasing the transportation time to 13 days, you end up needing two lab locations,” he says. That would have led to a more complex problem of which samples go to which lab—which Gallien compares to the retail relationship between customers and warehouses.
The data also revealed a more complex human component of the problem—the relationship between turnaround time and caretaker followup. When test results took more than 30 days, babies’ mothers were much less likely to come back to get their results—or treatment.
“There’s all kinds of stigma and psychological impact having to do whether you transmitted the virus to your infant,” says Gallien. “It’s [a] very challenging, difficult psychological context in the first place,” and the discouragement of slow test results can trigger disengagement. Though far less dire, it’s not hard to see the parallels in retail—speedy fulfillment makes it easier for customers to make decisions, and stick with them.
Authorities in Mozambique are still processing Gallien’s recommendations, but he says Uganda has already begun to implement a similar set of solutions. The move to data-based planning, he says, opens up big possibilities for improving global healthcare.
“Particularly in these environments where there’s limited resources, limited time—this could really improve outcomes.”
The article was published on Fortune.
New America Media, News Report, Andres Caballero, Posted: Dec 08, 2010
NEW YORK CITY—The statue of Dr. James Marion Sims, a surgical pioneer considered the father of modern gynecology, stands amid fallen autumn leaves in northeast Central Park, bowing to passersby who look with curiosity, but fail to recognize him.
Sims’ contributions to science and medicine are revered by many, but reviled by those who know of the pain endured by female slaves on whom he operated without anesthesia in the mid-1800s: he was trying to find the cure for a painful post-birth condition known as vesico-vaginal fistula.
“There is no doubt that he carried out experiments on women, and that he was only able to do so because they were slaves,” says Deborah McGregor, a history professor at the University of Illinois and author of From Midwives to Medicine: The Birth of American Gynecology.
The issue now is whether the city should continue to honor Sims’s achievements or signal its disapproval of his methods by removing his statue from its place at Fifth Avenue near 103rd Street, opposite the New York Academy of Medicine, a historically African-American neighborhood that is now largely Puerto Rican.
“Should the NYC Parks Department remove the statue of Dr. Marion Sims from its East Harlem location considering his experiments on female and infant slaves?” asked a recent poll on EastHarlemPreservation.Org, an advocacy organization that promotes and preserves the neighborhood’s cultural, architectural and environmental history.
Of the 650 respondents, 62 percent voted for removal, while 16 percent wanted to keep the statue in place, and 23 percent said they needed more information.
A 2007 petition by the office of New York City Councilmember Charles Barron to remove the statue went nowhere, said Marina Ortiz, president and founder of East Harlem Preservation. But Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito has told the group that she is open to advocating for the statue’s removal.
Meanwhile, a spokesman from the NYC Parks and Recreation department says there have been no requests to get rid of the statue. Frances Mastrota, chair of the Community Board 11 Parks and Recreation Committee, says she did not know about the statue, but added that she would look into possible requests to have it removed.
Sims was a controversial figure even in his lifetime. Born in South Carolina in 1813, he attended medical school in his home state and in Philadelphia, and spent the early part of his career practicing in Alabama, where he owned slaves. In addition to his pioneering work in the field of gynecology —among other things — he invented the speculum, an instrument that allows doctors to see into the vagina—he boasted of being the first doctor in the South to successfully treat clubfoot and cross-eyes.
A major focus of his gynecological work was finding a way to repair vesico-vaginal fistula, a painful and embarrassing disorder caused by prolonged labor that results in the complete loss of urinary (and often fecal) control, as well as other side effects. In Sims’s era, the condition was “a physical and social calamity,” as one researcher puts it, and women with the condition were forced to avoid contact with other people, and were sometimes sent away from their families.
Sims operated on at least 10 slave women from about 1845 to 1849.
Although anesthesia became available in 1846, at least three of the slaves—Lucy, Anarcha and Betsey — endured surgery without it.
A New York Times article in October 1894 explains how Sims’s “first operation was on a female slave and was unsuccessful. He operated again and again on the same subject [Anarcha], and finally, in his thirtieth trial, he was successful.”
In his autobiography, Sims wrote about Lucy: “The poor girl, on her knees, bore the operation with great heroism and bravery. Lucy’s agony was extreme.”
After perfecting his technique and repairing the fistulas successfully in Anarcha. Sims then repaired those of several other slave women. Only after these surgeries proved successful did he try the procedure on his white female patients, this time with anesthesia. (According to McGregor and others, Sims also operated on infants born to slaves).
Sims moved to New York in 1853, becoming famous over the next few decades for a number of advances in the treatment of female patients. During the Civil War, he traveled to London and Paris, where his patients included Empress Eugenie. He was named president of the American Medical Association in 1875 and the Gynecological Society in 1879. He died in New York in 1883.
Sims’s bronze and granite statue, designed by German sculptor Ferdinand von Miller II, was first erected in Bryant Park, near the New York Public Library in midtown Manhattan, in 1892, and moved to East Harlem in 1934. A placard on the monument reads: “Surgeon and philanthropist, founder of the Woman’s Hospital State of New York. In recognition of his services in the cause of science and mankind.”
The current backlash against Sims has its roots in the women’s movement of the mid-1970s. But Sims also has his defenders, including L. Lewis Wall, a doctor and professor at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. “Sims’s modern critics have discounted the enormous suffering experienced by fistula victims, Wall wrote in a 2005 article in the Journal of Medical Ethics, adding that Sims’s failure to use anesthesia on his black patients in the 1840s was not necessarily racist:
“Acceptance [of anesthesia among doctors at the time] was not universal, and there was considerable opposition to its introduction from many different quarters, for many different reasons.”
Walls noted: “The evidence suggests that Sims’s original patients were willing participants in his surgical attempts to cure their affliction—a condition for which no other viable therapy existed at that time.”
“I think it’s important to add that he did help some of the women by creating a working treatment for a miserable condition,” agrees McGregor, the history professor. Still, she adds, “I sympathize with the desire to remove the statue. Perhaps the best compromise is to make a statue honoring Anarcha, Betsy and Lucy.”
But Ortiz, of East Harlem Preservation, believes the Sims statue should go.
“I don’t think that the average Puerto Rican in East Harlem would find this statue representative of their community,” she says, adding. “Building a statue of the three [slave] women won’t solve the issue.”
Andres Caballero is currently an MS student at Columbia School of Journalism.
The article was published on New American Media.
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A patient’s wife once told urology surgeon Peter Pinto, MD, that there was no way she’d agree to have a dozen biopsy needles stuck blindly into her breast just because a blood test suggested she might have cancer.
But that’s exactly what happens with many men whose cancer screening test reveals an elevated level of prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, in their blood. Although mammography provides images of suspicious breast lesions to guide biopsy needles, prostate cancer is the only type of solid organ tumor that is usually diagnosed sight unseen with hit-or-miss tissue biopsies.