“Dr.” Raphael Nyarkotey Obu: Another example showing quackery’s the same all over the world

You know how I like to refer to Dr. Oz as “America’s quack“? Being the international interest guy that I am, I think I might just have found a candidate who apparently thinks he’s Ghana’s equivalent, Ghana’s quack, if you will. Thanks to various weekend activities, I didn’t have time to do one of my epics of logorrhea or an in-depth dive into a topic. Fortunately, this story managed to catch my attention, and I think it’s worth a short mention before diving into the thick of things tomorrow. After all, I like to see how quacks around the world operate and how other nations, regardless of where they are, handle unscientific and pseudooscientific medicine.

So meet Dr. Raphael Nyarkotey Obu, who is characterized as a “brilliant holistic medical practitioner.” The article about him that popped up in my Google Alerts is truly amazing, and not in a good way:

ALTERNATIVE and allopathic medicines are the two main broad divisions in medicine and medical care the world over.

According to statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO), over eighty percent (80%) of the world population, especially in the Developing World and underserved areas resort to Alternative Medicine (AM) to address their health needs.

WHO additionally attributes the longer life expectancy rates among Continental Asian Countries, to the development, promotion and patronage of alternative medicine.

The above statistics and great attributes of AM informed WHO’s decision, to institute August 31st as African Traditional Medicine Day, to celebrate the importance and the strategic role of Traditional and Alternative Medicine (TAM), in healthcare delivery and promotion.

This is an example of a time when the phrase “citation required” is especially appropriate. Somehow, I really doubt that the WHO credited longer life expectancy to the use of alternative medicine. It is, unfortunately, true that there is a day promoted by the WHO as African Traditional Medicine Day. It is also true that some 80% of Africa’s population relies on traditional medicine for their basic medical needs.

In Ghana, I learn, alternative medicine is lumped together with Traditional Medicine and confined to the Ministry of Health via the Alternative Medicine Directorate and the Traditional Medicine Practice Council, respectively. If you believe the article, that makes alternative medicine worse off in Ghana than in the rest of the African continent. Enter Ghana’s quack, Dr. Nyarkotey Obu:

A lonely voice has emerged as an Alternative Medicine’s strongest lonely voice and an Ambassador Extraordinaire Dr. Raphael Nyarkotey Obu.

He went a step further recently to float and established the Nyarkotey College of Holistic Medicine, in collaboration with the Da Vinci College of Holistic Medicine, Larnaca City, Cyprus, one of Europe’s prominent Alternative Medicine Universities. It has been highly rated in 2012, by Shannor Walker inforbarrel reports amongst the top five holistic medicine universities in the US though the school is based in Cyprus.

The college teaches quite the variety of quackery:

The College is an alternative University College, affiliated to the Da Vici College of Holistic Medicine, Larnaca City, which would train practitioners and experts in undergraduate and graduate competencies in Alternative Medicine. Da vinci College offers program in Bachelor of Science in Holistic Medicine, Masters and Doctor of Science in Holistic Medicine. Other programs such as Diploma and Certificate in Homeopathy Medicine, Naturopathic Medicine, Clinical Nutrition, Herbal Medicine and among others. The college’s program have been reviewed and accepted by the Traditional Medicine Practice Council of the Ministry of health and prospective students are to write the professional qualifying examination conducted by the council.

much of what is taught at the College is, of course, the sort of quackery that one could find in any American, European, or Australian quack school. It’s depressing to see that the government has basically approved its curriculum and that graduates can write for a qualifying examination. In any case, “Dr.” Obu is pretty energetic when it comes to promoting quackery in Ghana:

Dr. Raphael Nyarkotey Obu has become synonymous with Holistic/Alternative and prostate cancer in the country.

He is a leading voice in public education and awareness on the effects of prostate cancer and a strong advocate for Father’s Day to re-designated and declared National Prostate Cancer Day.

He is a research Professor of Prostate Cancer and Holistic Medicine at Da Vinci College of Holistic Medicine, Larnaca City, Cyprus.

He is the National President of the Alternative Medical Association of Ghana, (AMAG) and doubled as the Vice Chancellor of Nyarkotey College of Holistic Medicine, Ghana, affiliated to Da Vinci College of Holistic Medicine in Cyprus.

Those are a lot of impressive-sounding titles, and “Dr.” Obu has impressive-sounding patter to go along with them:

Dr. Nyarkotey is determined and aims to find a cure and preventive medicine for prostate cancer using evidence based alternative medicine which he coined the new medical term “Allopathic Alternative Medicine”. In achieving his mission, the research Professor of prostate cancer and alternative medicine has also established the first Africa Prostate cancer Research Centre at Tema Community 17 to research into evidence based natural medicine. He is also a member of the Prostate cancer transatlantic Consortium (CapTC), a firm researching into prostate cancer in black men under University of Florida, USA, led by Professor Odedina and also a member of the Society of Cancer epigenetic, Austria.

“Allopathic alternative medicine”? Does Obu even know what the terms mean? Recall that “allopathic” is a term for conventional medicine thought up by Samuel Hahnemann to distinguish it from homeopathy. It’s meant as a derogatory term. Regardless of the word’s origin and if you even accept it as a legitimate word to describe medicine (I do not, but unfortunately the word has wormed its way into regular use, even by some medical societies), “allopathic” is the opposite of alternative medicine. It’s as though Obu just threw words together. I suppose I could credit him with more knowledge than he likely has. Maybe he’s cleverly coming up with a term for “integrative medicine,” in which quackery is “integrated” with real medicine. Probably not.

Unfortunately, regardless of Obu’s intent or knowledge with respect to “allopathic alternative medicine,” it’s disturbing how even a seemingly obscure story can show how “integrative medicine” has led to so much “quackademic” medicine, in which reputable medical schools become enamored of pseudoscience and study it as though it had a scientific basis. Of course, in this case the researchers could be interested in natural products that might have therapeutic use. Given that Folakemi Odedina is a professor of pharmacy, that is probably what’s going on.

Finally, not surprisingly, “Dr. Obu” is not what he claims to be:

Dr. Raphael Nyarkotey Obu graduated with Doctor of Philosophy in Alternative Medicine with research interest in prostate cancer from the IBAM Academy in Kolkata, India. He started his medical pathway as a Medical Sonography graduate from the Radford University College, Ghana and also trained as Science Laboratory Scientist from the Trans Africa University College. Dr. Nyarkotey has worked in several Hospitals specializing in prostate or urological ultrasound and one of the finest Medical Sonographer’s who aim to use Doppler ultrasound for prostate cancer diagnosis.

His love for men’s health further engineered him to studied the first ever master’s program in prostate cancer at Sheffield Hallam University, UK, postdoctoral training in prostate cancer and holistic medicine at Da Vinci College of Holistic Medicine under Dr. George Georgiou, Larnaca City, Cyprus. He has authored hundreds of scientific articles in leading National Dailies and journals and frequently mentioned by Oheneba Ntim Barimah as one of the country’s expert in alternative medicine and prostate cancer.

So basically “Dr.” Obu is an ultrasound and lab technician, not a real doctor. He got a bogus “doctorate” from a correspondence school in India. I do love, though, how he claims “hundreds of scientific articles” in leading national dailies and journals. What’s the ratio, I wonder? 100 articles in dailies to one article in a “complementary and alternative medicine” journal? Sadly, no matter where you are in the world, the US, Europe, or even Ghana, quacks are the same everywhere.