Dr. Lewis Roberts, Safari Five 2016
Dr. Lewis Roberts
Dr. Roberts, a Ghana native, now currently lives in Rochester, Minnesota where he works as a Professor of Medicine and Consultant in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the Mayo Clinic. His research includes improving the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of hepatitis and liver cancer in Africa. He has received research funding from the National Institutes of Health, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the AGA Foundation for Digestive Health and Nutrition. He also serves as the president for Africa Partners Medical.
During Kevin’s presentation, Dr. Roberts took part in the following Q&A session:
Q: What drew you to get involved with PMMI?
A: I have been collaborating with Tom Petersen over many years with Africa Partners Medical. When Tom began speaking about this idea of PMMI, I thought about how much this met the need of providing a safe location to provide primary health screenings and care.
Q. Why is it so difficult to provide quality health care in underprivileged countries?
A. It is so difficult because of direct funding. It takes a large amount of financial resources to be able to bring a community to the standards of Western medicine that many take for granted.
Q. How do you anticipate PMMI can overcome these difficulties?
A: PMMI can overcome some of these financial obstacles by providing a low-cost alternative for a health clinic. In many African countries, construction of a new ‘brick and mortar’ clinic can take up to two years (and sometimes more). With PMMI, you do not have to wait for construction. The clinic can be quickly positioned in a desired location, connected to utilities, and opened to see patients.
Q. In underserved countries, how could tracking a patient’s health history using EMR software improve his or her treatment?
A. This historical patient data is missing in today’s primary care in developing countries. For example, the ability to screen and track an individual’s hepatitis exposure can help when diagnosing adult liver cancer. With the appropriate screening and historical information, diagnosis and treatment of liver cancer in adult men can be greatly improved and lives can be saved.
Q. In what ways might the Ebola crisis have gone differently if PMMI had a fleet of operating clinics across sub-saran Africa?
A. The answer to this question is similar to the previous one. The ability to provide necessary screenings, and retain the data, gives a better perspective on the incidence of all types of diseases from Malaria, Zika, or Ebola. With this type of access and documentation of health care will greatly increase early detection of life threatening diseases, allowing health experts implement measures that minimize the risk of them spreading.