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Why Africans and Americans Africans Must Participate in Clinical Research Trials

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Clinical research trial is a vital component of medical research, as it invests significant resources emphasizing on disease prevention, treatment comparisons, identifying people who are at risk for developing a type of disease, or testing a treatment for a rare/emerging disease.

Clinical Research has been known to improve clinical outcomes, giving birth to major medical and technological advancements that have tremendously improved our overall quality of life.

Clinical research trials test the effectiveness and safety of new medicines or treatments. Some breakthroughs and advancements through clinical research include the development of new medications and treatments options for diseases, new diagnostic approaches, and new ways of reducing disease risk factors.

In my recent journey into clinical research investigation, I have observed that African American immigrants are yet to embrace the essence of clinical research studies.

While several studies have shown that the most common barriers to African Americans’ involvement in clinical research included mistrust in the system due to lack of information, and a fear that history may repeat itself, personal stories abound as to the safety and potential benefits of including this population in research studies.

Some other barriers include societal, educational, cultural, and financial reasons.

Could this be different for the immigrant African American?

Immigrant African Americans are known to be some of the most educated immigrants in the United States, and part of the education centers around understanding the essence of research, and participating in it.

Immigrant African-Americans suffer significantly from diabetes, cancer, hypertension, and heart diseases when compared with their Caucasian or Asian counterparts, but they are frequently marginalized and underrepresented in clinical trials of these diseases.

What we must understand is that, it is impossible to generalize the results of any study, without considering samples from different populations that will potentially be affected by the results of such studies.

Efforts to improve enrollment of immigrant African-American subjects entail that we all recognize the numerous medical problems that require totally new treatment approaches, or a modification to existing modalities.

The incidence of heart disease, prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, diabetes and several other viral diseases in immigrant African-Americans necessitates that this population be specifically involved in clinical trials for medical and surgical research purposes.

I am therefore calling upon all immigrant African Americans, and Africans all over the world, to participate in clinical research trials happening around them, so as to be well represented, and considered in the medical advancements, and production of pharmaceutical products made for diseases that could potentially affect us.

♦ Edith Nkem Declan an Adjunct Nursing Professor and Clinical Research Nurse Practitioner, based in Houston Texas.

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Anthony Obi Ogbo

New Book, “Shred of Fear” Invokes a Provocative Recollection of the Biafran War

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Nwokedi’s “Shred of Fear” masterfully captures a phenomenological account of a three-year hellish journey toward an unfulfilled dream of a promising nation, Biafra. —Anthony Ogbo

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The machinery of childhood memories remains a mystery grounded in neurological maturation, socialization, and other factors that often influence an individual’s recollection of momentous childhood events. In his book, Shred of Fear, Uche Nwokedi renders a memoir of his experiences living through the Biafran War (also known as the Nigerian Civil War). His recollection is unmatched and encompasses many critical moments unfamiliar to the current generation.

According to Nwokedi, “Childhood memories of that time remain indelibly etched into my psyche. Now and then, I see them in my mind’s eye, in shades of sepia, like old photographs from a family album.”

The author is confident about his memories of the war and explains their significance: “I treasure these memories and hold fast to them, as they are the watershed years of my journey in life so far. I fully embrace the emotions they evoke, with no apologies for what the child remembers.”

The story of the Biafran war is not new. Yet, a lot of events surrounding this bloody mayhem have not been told, and unfortunately, the advent of social media and technology innovation has not made telling the story about the great Biafran journey any easier. For instance, several analyses, books, and publications have pervaded the internet with Google-generated unsubstantiated content. Even some authors who fought in the war have rendered subjective accounts to appease specific social and political interests. Some activists equally went astray, creating Biafran war content to pursue their “We the people” agitation crusades.

Shred of Fear, however, is far from those. Shred is not a political written handout. It is not a children’s bedtime storybook. It is a masterful rendition of the Biafran War devoid of Google speculations. The author, a child at the time, creatively captures a phenomenological account of a three-year hellish journey toward an unfulfilled dream of a promising nation. Indeed, from beginning to end, Shred unloads from a unique perspective the very interesting and relatively unknown events that marked this horrific season.

But the most exciting and credible endorsement of this book comes from Chief Arthur Mbanefo, a commissioner and roving ambassador in Biafra (1967–1970). According to Chief Mbanefo, “As one who participated fully in the Biafra War, Shred of Fear is a powerful and vivid factual recollection of events that defined the war for the author. Written with such brilliant simplicity, one is taken on a journey of the changes in life in a time of war by the author. A must-read. Highly recommended!”

One remarkable aspect of this book is the author’s representation of Aba, the great Enyimba city, which he describes as “one of those quintessentially colonial Nigerian towns with all the hallmarks of a place with plenty of growth potential.” From Aba’s City Life to The Pound Road Bombing and finally, the “Fall of Aba,” the author paints a realistic picture of what transpired inside Biafra at the initial stage of the war. Again, here is the author:

“I saw pictures of mutilated bodies and they gave me the chills. To crown it all, there were constant mobs of angry young men running through the streets of Aba carrying leaves, crying for vengeance, and chanting in the Igbo language, “Ojukwu gives us a gun to defend ourselves.”

In addition to music, which became a therapeutic part of the culture in the Biafran land, the author recounts how air raids became the hallmark of this war. Killer fighter jets preyed on innocent masses at will. In his own words, Nwokedi writes, “We would see the MIGs [jet fighters] suddenly swoop down from the sun like hawks, fly low past the GRA [Government Reserved Area], bomb the town center and markets, climb back up into the sky and then leave as quickly as they had come.”

Another interesting aspect of this book is the author’s recollection of the Aburi Accord. On January 4 and 5, 1967, delegates and representatives from both the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Eastern Region, led by Lieutenant Colonel Emeka Ojukwu, met in Aburi, Ghana, to agree on what is now known as the Aburi Accord. This meeting at Aburi was supposed to be the last opportunity for both parties to resolve any conflict to prevent civil war.

Nwokedi approaches the Aburi Accord from a different perspective. He remembers how the phrase “On Aburi we stand” was widely chanted and adopted by everyone. “We heard older people say it often, and so we repeated it all the time as well. We loved the sound of it,” he narrates.

The book explores the genuineness of Biafra’s failed struggle. Consequently, its contents emit unprecedented historical relevance to a people, their strength, and a vision that was never accomplished.

The author’s account subtitled “The Line in the Sand” rightly indicates how the collapse of the Aburi Accord created a playing field for two warring combatants ready to terminate each other. Yet his final reflection on the collapse of this accord remains intelligible. He writes:

“Quite clearly, these two young soldiers escalated a war of words into an internecine war. With those conflicting clarion calls, the line in the sand was drawn, and the war began in earnest.”

The book explores the genuineness of Biafra’s failed struggle. Consequently, its contents emit unprecedented historical relevance to a people, their strength, and a vision that was never accomplished. As the author says, “The flickering light of Biafra had been unceremoniously snuffed out, but the darkness of defeat had not yet enveloped it. The sun was sinking, and we were drifting fast into the gloaming of defeat.”

In 14 chapters loaded with his candid recollection, the author does not ignore the political implications of the war, the lessons learned from the uncertainties that triggered the destructive duel, and where Nigeria currently stands. According to Nwokedi, “The Biafran War is long over, but the peace it won remains fragile and full of anxiety.” He continues, “We continue to live in anticipation of the promises of Nigeria.”

Shred of Fear is a superb memoir of a man who lived through the horrendous Biafran civil war as a child. Currently, Uche Nwokedi is an accomplished Nigerian author and lawyer, and Shred is not his first endeavor. He is also the writer and creative producer of the award-winning musical production Kakadu the Musical, which has toured Nigeria, Switzerland, and South Africa to great critical acclaim.

Order this book from Nigeria: >>>  |  Order this book from Amazon: >>>

♦Publisher of the Guardian News, Journalism and RTF Professor, Anthony Obi Ogbo, Ph.D. is on the Editorial Board of the West African Pilot News. He is the author of the Influence of Leadership (2015)  and the Maxims of Political Leadership (2019). Contact: anthony@guardiannews.us

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Facts and Myths about Weight Loss: Finding Your New You

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You would agree with me that the social and digital media has been saturated with innumerable diet advices and trends. Influencers would promise everything from “easy quickie” weight loss; nutrition habits to diet management, using those to engage and lure unsuspecting naive readers who fall for the gimmicks. At last, they leave people disappointed, discouraged, and often weighing even more than they did before they started.

My name is Faith Ononye Onyechefuna, your provider at the Walter J. Family and Wellness Clinic. Based on my observation from several patients I have interacted with, I will share with you in this article, the facts and myths about Weight Loss.

Now let’s get to business:

First is the perception that it does not matter what you eat as long as you count calories

Here are the facts: Believe it or not, what you eat matters. According to National institute of health, a calorie is a unit of energy in food. Our body uses energy derived from foods to function. 1 gram of carbohydrate is 4 calories, 1gram of protein is 4 calories, 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories according to department of health. Adult females need between 1,600 to 2400 calories a day and adult males need 2,000 to 3,000 calories according to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines.

One notion about weight loss is the tendency to reduce calorie intake but one must be careful not to cut back too much. Caloric counting encourages quantity over quality. The main goal is to focus on the appropriate range of calories for amount of fuel you are burning. One also need to consume nutrient dense diet that stabilizes blood sugar and help trigger satiety

Another perception is cutting back on carbs to lose weight

Here are the facts: Are you aware there are different forms of carbs? Simple and complex. Simple carbs can be found in junk foods like cookies, candies which lacks nutrients. Foods with complex carb like whole wheat bread and fruits have lots of nutrients that are good for you. Cutting back on sweets like the simple carbs are wonderful way to navigate toward healthy eating habits

Next is setting high goals if you want to lose weight and it is one size fit all

Here are the facts:  weight loss goals are attainable when it is realistic. High goals maybe unattainable and make you give up. Weight loss process is highly individualized. What works for someone else may not work for you. Be ready to modify your plan as you and your healthcare provider discovers what works for you. Weight loss is a lifetime commitment. It is a journey that begins when you are ready. Weight loss readiness questions include:

  • Are you motivated to make long term lifestyle changes?
  • Have you identified and address the big distractions in your life? Such as marital problems, job stresses, illnesses, financial worries
  • Do you have a realistic picture of how much weight you’ll lose and how quickly? The aim of losing 1 to 2 pounds a week until you reach your goal is more realistic than loosing 1 to 2 pounds daily.
  • Do you have support and accountability? Having someone to offer encouragement can help or you may consider joining weight loss support group. One must commit to regular weighing and tracking of diet and activities to achieve effective weight loss goals.

Another significant misconception we have about weight is that obesity is by choice, not nature

Here are the facts: Obesity is not by choice. Obesity is caused by cascades of genetic variables. The body has many biological pathways and hormones that function harmoniously to regulate body weight; these pathways may be dysfunctional in people that are obsessed, making weight loss goals unattainable. Numerous medical conditions, such as hypothyroidism, polycystic ovarian disease, depression have been linked to one or more disruptions in hormonal levels thereby increasing risk of weight gain. For instance, body resistance to hormone leptin may lead to obesity. Leptin is a hormone that inhibits hunger and regulate energy balance, so the body does not trigger hunger responses when it does not need energy. Resistance to leptin makes the brain think one is in starvation mood and thus consume more. Therefore, for a weight loss program to be effective, a provider must draw labs to check hormonal level and make necessary correction to achieve realistic weight loss goals.

As a wellness professional, I can tell you right away that path to healthy, enduring weight management habit is not very rosy but could be turned into an exciting fun activity if you seek professional counsel. By the way, Walter J. is a Pearland, Texas – based family clinic providing individualized affordable healthcare to families across lifespan; preventing illness and improving quality of life through education, wellness, treating and controlling diseases. Our weight-management programs are most innovative and highly effective.

For free consultation about your weight, you may call me directly: 832-400-2118

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Anthony Obi Ogbo

Contentious race for Harris County Judge—why voters must stand by incumbent Lina Hidalgo

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“Republican Party intentionally rendered Harris County a crime scene with bloody gun laws to corroborate their “tough-on-crime” campaign strategy.” ―Anthony Obi Ogbo

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It was not a surprise when the Houston Chronicle handed an endorsement to Alexandra del Moral Mealer, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo’s Republican Party challenger. Citing very flimsy justifications in its editorial piece, The Chronicle concluded, “we encourage Harris County voters to back Mealer in this race. We can only hope that once in office, she’d effectively address crime, tend to basic services, and restore civility on the court by governing as a strong local leader, not a partisan.”

And seriously, The Chronicle wants voters to believe that a Donald Trump student, a 2020 election denier who does not believe in democracy and rule of law could “restore civility on the court by governing as a strong local leader.”

Without a doubt, the race for Harris County Judge has taken a pugnacious turn for the worst.  From the corporate media to predatory Republican Party business gurus and cohorts, a do-or-die conspiracy venture to unseat this incumbent is costing her opposition a fortune. For instance, the latest campaign finance reports show that as of mid-October, Mealer raised nearly 5 million dollars—more than most state-wide candidates.

The opposition campaign funds are utilized to lampoon Hidalgo with a composition of junky advertorial slots littered all over the media. As a strategy to support their fictitious claim that Hidalgo was defunding the police, the Republican members of the Harris County Commissioners Court have consistently boycotted meetings, blocking the passage of the proposed county budget, then using that to generate campaign materials for the midterm.

There are obvious reasons why rapacious opposition cronies want Hidalgo’s pound of flesh. She is the first woman to be elected County Judge and only the second to be elected to the Commissioners Court. Additionally, her Democratic Party identity and all-inclusive progressive ideology make her the opposition’s nightmare. For instance, she expanded early childhood education, pursued criminal justice reform, and initiated stricter regulation of land development and pollution. To make her opposition witch hunters even more uncomfortable, she facilitated easier access to voting and passionately supported commonsense policies for undocumented immigrants.

Her aggressive response to the coronavirus pandemic further elevated her popularity among Harris County residents.

Yet Hidalgo remains a hard nut, who in 2018 at the age of 27, and as a first-time candidate surprised the political establishment by crushing a three-term Republican brand name incumbent, Ed Emmett. Her aggressive response to the coronavirus pandemic further elevated her popularity among Harris County residents.

The Republicans on the other hand floated a long list of policy meltdowns to back up their antagonizing disapproval of Hidalgo’s stewardship. According to The Houston Chronicle, which indeed provides overbearing media coverage for the anti-Hidalgo fraternity, “Our gravest concerns, though, involve Hidalgo’s failure to respond with urgency to Harris County’s crime wave.”

It is hypocritical when the opposition blames Hidalgo for the County’s high rise in crime without at least citing the root of the problem. The current uncontrollable crime rate was hatched when Gov. Greg Abbott and his Republican collaborators enacted the permitless carry bill into law in 2021. This deadly legislation, which took effect starting Sept. 1, made it legal to carry handguns without a license or training. Thus, the Republican Party intentionally rendered Harris County a crime scene with bloody gun laws to corroborate their “tough-on-crime” campaign strategy.

If any party should bring us matters of moral decency in government, it is definitely not the Republican Party

Hidalgo’s three staffers were indicted for allegedly steering an $11 million contract toward a Democratic operative, and the opposition has made this an anthem. I would agree with Hidalgo that the indictments are meritless and politically motivated. But wait a minute, if any party should bring us matters of moral decency in government, it is definitely not the Republican Party.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, is currently facing state securities fraud charges and reportedly is under FBI investigation for bribery, yet he is still on the ballot. It has been nearly seven years since the attorney general was indicted on felony securities fraud charges and he is still on the job. Additionally, Gov. Abbott recently appointed an officer indicted for misconduct during George Floyd protests to the police regulatory agency. Justin Berry was among 19 Austin police officers indicted earlier this year, accused of using excessive force against people protesting the murder of George Floyd. So, who really needs these lessons on moral decency?

The truth is that after a 2016 Harris County election “Blue Wave” when the Democrats swept up every single countywide seat, including the district attorney and sheriff’s offices, the Republican opposition has been alarmed about losing the state majority. Harris County, the third largest in the nation, has remained a Democratic Party enclave which might likely influence the state political dynamic.

The battle for Harris County Judge goes beyond the ongoing conspiracies orchestrated by a desperate Republican opposition. Their challenger, Mealer, is a good woman, but she is a stooge who is being planted by the anti-democratic Republican Party to represent their interests.

The call to retain the incumbent, Lina Hidalgo, in the office is not a partisan move.

I have always advised communities not to rely on corporate media endorsements to make their political choices because their interests are often profit-oriented, politically motivated, and thoughtlessly bigoted to appease some ulterior causes.  The call to retain the incumbent, Lina Hidalgo, in the office is not a partisan move. Ushering a Republican stooge into this office would tear this county apart. Also, Harris County voters must not be confused by sensational stories of the corporate media spewing amplifying headlines about this race being very tight.  According to Texas Trends Survey 2022: The Race for Harris County Judge, published by the Hobby School of Public Affairs of the University of Houston, “Among Harris County likely voters surveyed, the vote intention in the county judge race is 52% for Democrat Lina Hidalgo and 42% for Republican Alexandra del Moral Mealer, with 6% undecided.”

Now, if you care to know why the State Republican leaders are doing everything to block minority voters, here is why: In the same survey, Hidalgo holds a 71-percentage point advantage over del Moral Mealer among Black voters, 79% vs. 8%, and a 44-percentage point advantage among Latino voters, 69% vs. 25%.

Now you know why, come rain or sunshine, every minority must vote!

♦Publisher of the Guardian News, Journalism and RTF Professor, Anthony Obi Ogbo, Ph.D. is on the Editorial Board of the West African Pilot News. He is the author of the Influence of Leadership (2015)  and the Maxims of Political Leadership (2019). Contact: anthony@guardiannews.us

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