July 19, 2016

Visiting fellow from Ghana talks health disparities to U-M colleagues

When he heads back to Ghana in a few weeks, visiting fellow Dr. Titus Beyuo will return with a completed casebook and a newly focused career path.

But he leaves something behind at U-M, too: valuable insights shared with his Ann Arbor colleagues about some of the global health issues that are prevalent in his native country. A physician from Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, in Accra, Dr. Beyuo capped his Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology fellowship by making a health disparities presentation to Pharmacology colleagues. He discussed the use of magnesium sulfate to manage eclampsia and preeclampsia among pregnant women – a common treatment in the US but one that, for economic reasons, is less common in Ghana.

Dr. Timothy Johnon (left) and visiting fellow Dr. Titus Beyuo

“On the one hand, it’s a simple topic, but his experiences were so different from ours that it was fascinating,” said Lori Isom, Maurice H. Seevers Professor and Chair Pharmacology, one of almost 30 people who attended the July 8 lecture. “In the US, we don’t even think twice about this stuff. But in Ghana, this drug would add $11 to a hospital stay and patients refuse it because even that cost is too high … women lose their lives because of the lack of this very simple pharmacological agent. It was really sobering and it left a big impression.”

A graduate of the University of Ghana Medical School, one of U-M’s partner medical schools in Ghana, Dr. Beyuo also holds a postgraduate degree in Pharmacology. When he returns to Ghana later this month, he hopes to implement a broad clinical trial exploring the efficacy of magnesium sulfate at different dosages for women with eclampsia. He expects to finish his OBGYN fellowship at Korle-Bu next spring.

“The whole fellowship experience has been fantastic,” Dr. Beyuo said. “I completed my casebook and discussions, I’ve been involved in clinical work, attended grand rounds, and of course given my presentation to the academic faculty here. I expected to primarily observe, but I’ve felt like an active participant in the academic discussion, so it’s exceeded my expectations.”

OBGYN Professor Timothy Johnson, who has worked extensively in Ghana and was instrumental in establishing UMMS’ institutional partnerships there, oversaw Dr. Beyuo’s three-month fellowship experience and arranged the presentation opportunity after learning about the man’s passion for the issue. Visiting fellows are rarely called upon to make such presentations, especially outside of their host department.

“The research Titus has proposed is something that no one in Ghana is doing. A presentation to our colleagues in Pharmacology seemed like a neat opportunity for him and for us,” Dr. Johnson said. “Our students, residents, and faculty learn so much from their interactions with visitors like Titus, hearing about how they practice and listening to their perspectives. I say it repeatedly, but we get much more than we give in these global health collaborations.”