Women’s participation in medicine dates back to ancient Egypt. For generations, female medical doctors have played a key role in health outcomes, particularly for other women. This is a top priority for Dr. Sewuese Akuse, who looks to close the gap in health disparities in the United States for marginalized and minority women. Focusing her work on areas that often see the most considerable disparities, Akuse aims to turn the gender bias in the medical field upside down and improve the future of women’s healthcare – one patient at a time.
As the daughter of healthcare providers, Akuse takes pride in those who inspired her to make a difference in the lives of many today. Watching her parents wake up in the middle of the night to care for underserved people in her home country of Nigeria, she grew to understand the importance of selflessness and the impact of helping others, no matter when and where.
These life lessons would later grow into a dream of helping others and lead her to America to earn a Master of Public Health focused on Epidemiology from Georgia Southern University – further expanding her mission of providing high-quality healthcare and health education to women who would otherwise not have access. Specializing in offering medical treatment to women with HIV/AIDS, cervical cancer, and breast cancer, Akuse remains dedicated to making her mark in the field.
Through her experience as a medical professional, Akuse has encountered her fair share of health disparities among women in Nigeria and America. This includes her home country’s stigmatized attitudes towards those with HIV. Many times, women who come from low-income areas hide their status out of fear of feeling “less than,” without the support to face the disease head-on.
On a mission to improve this matter, she worked to provide pro bono services for pregnant women with HIV and patients with cervical cancer. This would include delivering medications, consultations, screenings, lab work, and surgeries free of cost. Not to mention a safe space for patients to share their worries and concerns while offering encouragement. In America, her work to support women’s healthcare has never failed.
Now actively involved in her program’s HIV clinic, Akuse follows a similar model as she did in Nigeria, providing free services to individuals with HIV, encouraging women to get screened for cervical cancer regularly, and directing them to organizations to receive the pro bono services they need.
Against traditional views in society and the long-standing gender bias in healthcare, Akuse continues to advocate for the proper medical care that women deserve yet not always receive. This includes underdiagnosis or misdiagnosis of a condition that often requires great attention and treatment. “Women should not feel afraid to discuss with their doctor about their health problems. They can ask for a second opinion or meet with another provider if they feel unheard. If the situation keeps repeating itself, there are channels where the provider can be reported so this can be addressed.”
Alongside her life-saving work for women with HIV and cervical cancer, Akuse’s involvement in shaping American healthcare also lies in clinical research of breast cancer. Such work includes a publication on factors that increase and decrease breast cancer screening in America. Believing prevention is the most effective method, she strives to get ahead of breast cancer with proper screening to prevent the downstream effects such as death or decreased quality of life.
As she works to make advancements in research and treatment, Akuse is also digging deep to discover more about the widespread disease and the inactive approach women might have toward it – specifically regarding the lack of regular mammograms. Whether due to cost or lack of access to healthcare providers, she is helping to bridge this gap by speaking on the importance of providing free screenings and mobile clinics in areas with fewer doctors – two strategies that could increase the screening culture across the entire country.
Incorporating her compassionate personality and extraordinary ability for providing tailored treatment plans based on her unique background to low-income regions and ostracized communities, Akuse continues to impact women’s lives with great hope to shape America’s medical field and decrease inequities in healthcare. “It is very important to me to reach out to people that no one else wants to reach and give them the best medical care they require.”
Melissa Moraes is a freelance writer covering startups, socially responsible brands, and the newest trends in the world around us. Based in South Florida, she enjoys sunny beach days and motorcycle rides in her spare time.
© YFS Magazine. All Rights Reserved. Copying prohibited. All material is protected by U.S. and international copyright laws. Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this material is prohibited. Sharing of this material under Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International terms, listed here, is permitted.