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Today: June 21, 2024

Open Letter to President Joe Biden

March 20, 2023

Your Excellency President Biden,

It is my hope and prayer that you and your family are doing well! You have been leading our Nation at time when the world is facing unprecedented challenges not seen for decades. I pray for your continued health and strength as you tackle these challenges.

Over the last two years, I have sent you two letters: 1. An appeal for support of the establishment of the Center of Excellence of Advanced Spine Surgery in Maryland, and 2. My concern about the conflict between the government and the TPLF, in Ethiopia. I want to say thanks to your team for playing a critical role in helping resolve that conflict. Now the problem appears to have shifted south to Amhara and Oromia regions. Secretary Blinken’s visit to Ethiopia last week, and his efforts to bring the warring parties together is well appreciated and I expect a positive result going forward.

As I explained in my first letter, I was born and raised in a rural farming community in a border town of Moyale, between Ethiopia and Kenya. Most people suffered chronic back pain. That led me to specialize as an orthopedic spine surgeon, but the open spine surgery I was trained in was very traumatic and costly, and that led me to explore the least invasive, endoscopic surgical option. For that reason, I relocated to the USA, and while training as a Spine Fellow at the University Hospitals of Cleveland, Ohio, we developed 3 techniques within 3 years of my relocating to the USA, and today the world is benefiting from them. I also developed protocols which helped create multi-specialty, integrated, and value-based approach to spinal care based on the anatomic, image-based classification of the spinal conditions, which my colleagues and I had created. The idea of the Center of Excellence in spine care in Maryland was to train young spine surgeons in the endoscopic spine surgery, and to help minimize the suffering of patients because of lack of comprehensive, expeditious, and least traumatic surgical care, especially for the most vulnerable patients – the young and the elderly. Because of lack of appropriate treatment options for the various conditions, there were a staggering 110,236 opioid-related deaths in the USA, in 2022 – i.e. 302 deaths every 24 hours. While I do not have exact figures, chronic back pain sufferers accounted for a large proportion of those victims.

My purpose of writing this letter is to expand on those two earlier messages in the hope of helping build stronger bond and trust between the USA and Africa. In addition to the natural disasters such as illness and famine, intra-national and international conflicts have been ravaging Africa for a long time. Therefore, commitment to help resolve these problems in a sincere manner will build lasting friendship for the benefit of the USA and the African continent. I was invited to introduce the endoscopic spine surgery to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where I trained spine surgeons and performed endoscopic spine surgeries at the ALERT Hospital from January 28th to February 10th, 2023. The enthusiasm of the young surgeons was immense, and the patients were so happy for relief of their pain without much trauma, and for the ability to walk within few hours after surgery! Ethiopia’s Minister of Health, Dr. Lia Tadese, joined us in the operating room to witness the last surgery I performed there. She also interviewed a few patients whom I had operated on the previous day. She tweeted her experience the following day, here is the link:

Ethiopia’s population of working age-group (15-64 years of age) is about 65 million. About 46% (30 million) of them suffer from chronic back pain with about 70% loss of their productivity! For the entire continent of Africa chronic back sufferers are 300+ million people. So, it’s not only patients who suffer from chronic, disabling pain, but also the national economies! Earlier this month there was UN conference in Doha, Qatar, on the LDCs struggle to pay their debts to the international lenders. 33 of the LDCs members are African countries. While back pain is not the only reason why these countries are stuck in poverty, it is certainly a major, treatable contributor to their failure to progress.

A Center of Excellence in spine care, in Addis Ababa, will provide the most advanced care for patients, and also the necessary training for the spine surgeons from across the country and also from the rest of the continent. This will certainly improve the quality of life for individual patients and also improve their productivity, thus minimizing the risks of famine, and improve the economic performances of the nations. Needless to say, foreign investors in Africa will benefit a lot!

Such an investment in the welfare of the ordinary citizens, and their economies is the best way to help and win trust of the continent in the era of increasing international competition to influence. As I mentioned above, it was the suffering of our community’s farmers which made me specialize in spine surgery, but it is the USA which gave me the opportunity to develop the least invasive, most advanced, and cost-effected way to address their suffering. Going to Addis Ababa to deliver that service to the patients and train surgeons was my way of saying “Here is what my USA gave me, so that I give back to you”! It was a special, and emotional experience – the realization of the dream of 30-years long journey! I wish I knew Secretary Blinken was going to give additional $331 million to help Ethiopia through this difficult time, I would have asked him to set aside $50 million for the provision of advanced spine care services in Ethiopia!

Looking forward for this humanitarian and trust-building mission,

 

I remain,

Yours, respectfully,

Said G Osman, M.D., F.A.A.O.S., F.R.C.S.Ed., F.R.C.S.Ed.(ortho)

 

12 Comments

  1. Hats off to our dear brother Obbo Said G Osman! What a polished and dignified letter! I wish you all success in your sacred endeavor to help the helpless in the old country and every where!! Blessing to you and your family.

    • Dear Obbo Ittu Aba Farda,
      Thank you for your kind words. For me this is my life’s commitment. It has been a tough journey so far, but there is light at the end of the tunnel!
      Best regards.

      • You’re welcome Brother Said. Those of us who live everywhere outside that country it is incumbent upon us to do everything in our capacity to help those noble people who produced us all. Other physicians should follow your example and others besides sending money should get involved in starting and developing industries throughout the country. My family and I will have you in our prayers and best wishes!!!!

        • Thanks Brother,
          Nobody is perfect, and no system is perfect! However, despite of being underdeveloped we have a culture of very high values, and the world is just appreciating that today. So, whatever our profession is, we must take home the best of what we have learned from outside of Ethiopia and mix with the best we have at home and create a blend which is uniquely Ethiopian. Just transplanting into Ethiopia what we learn from outside may have a damaging effect culturally!
          Have a great day.

          • QUOTE: “Just transplanting into Ethiopia what we learn from outside may have a damaging effect culturally! “UNQUOTE

            Greetings Dr. SAID GOTO OASMAN
            DEAR SIR,
            YOU SAID IT ALL
            I always believed in your extraordinary insightful fifteen (15) words. I believe they are our obstacles.

            Who are “WE”??? My answer is this: the ‘eternal underdeveloped people who followed BLINDLY on education system which dragged us into believing the SUPERIORITY of colonizers and in the process we developed INFERIORITY COMPLEX , unknowingly hating ourselves. I honestly believe that is the source of our backwardness even if we are give a piece of paper ……………… I can’t finish it.
            THANK YOU VERY MUCH SIR. SAID GOTO OASMAN.

          • Thank you, Rezen.
            Let us not lose hope. Life presents us with all sorts of challenges, and we celebrate overcoming them! If we fall down, we’ve got to get up and continue the journey. But we must remember what made us fall first time so that we avoid a repeat! We all must take responsibility for our actions, all the time avoid hurting others because that is how perpetual hostilities are generated – you win today, but your victim waits for his turn and hits you back, and the vicious cycle continues until, God willing, togetherness is planted for the peace and happiness of all! Please check in the Archive of Zehabesha for “Letter to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi”, and potentially another one, “ETHIOPIA’S RENNAISANCE – CRADLE OF MANKIND!”
            Sharing perceptions like these, will help us move forward.
            Best regards.

  2. Thank you Dr. Osman for groundbreaking cutting age technology you discovered and gave to the world to remedy the risky invasive spine surgery you aptly explained in your letter to President Biden. We need more acute problem solvers like you.
    Be blessed.
    Rev. Francis Stephanos.
    Minnesota, USA.

    • Thank you, Pastor Francis.
      With the help of God and support of the communities, we hope to accomplish this multi-year dream for the benefit of all.
      Best regards.

      Said

  3. Subject: CORRECTION, with a smile
    My mistake in rushing to finish
    Third line from the bottom
    The word to be corrected is “give”
    Please correct it to read “given”.
    There is a fitting saying in the so-named “backward” society.
    It goes like this (translated): RUSHED HAYINA, WIND UP BITING THE HORN.
    ———————-
    Post Script
    And such insightful societies are given the name of “UNDER DEVELOPED COUNTRIES” by CRIMINAL SLIK MARAUDORS.
    ——————–

  4. THANK YOU, SAID
    You made my DAY! I LOVE your composition >>> to the point and eloquent enough to make the reader comfortable and enjoy the narration. Perhaps we will come to our natural senses.

    In any case, wherever you are, what ever you do PLEASE KEEP ON GOING. No wonder your dear parents named you “SAID” [my own interpretation]. YOUR READERS WILL BE COMFORTABLE TO LISTEN.
    Thank You, very much, in any case.
    Rezen

  5. I ululate; ilililili! The call for being “brothers’ keeper” performed. May the God of our Ancestors be Glorified for He has instilled in you the long time dream of concern and leading you all along journey. When I first read your email about successful accomplishing your research work some years back, I inwardly thanked God.
    Mine is praying, blessing and give you support in my capacity.

    Warm Regards from;

    • Thank you, Paul. I really appreciate the sentiment you so strongly expressed!
      It was a great blessing that I was born and raised in a community that is compassionate, caring, giving, and self-respecting. I recall when at the age of 6 years I witnessed an argument between my grandfather, Balambaras Wario Gobe (from Moiale, Ethiopia) and the Moyale Kenya’s colonial District Commissioner, at a community meeting outside our village. At that age, I did not understand what the argument was about, but it was a heated exchange in which the British D.C. appeared unable to answer questions. That was the day I concluded that the color of one’s skin did not define the quality of his/her brain! I believe it was the experience that gave me the confidence that I should explore whatever I find rational, hence my journey to figure out the least invasive and cost-effective way to solve what I considered the most debilitating pain our community members suffered.

      Changing the conventional way of doing things is always difficult! It was a long and lonely journey to get acceptability for my ideas and results but, thanks God, my heart and mind never left my Burji village (Manyatta Burji), neither did the suffering of my community and that’s how I remained focused on the journey of cure.

      I have done my part; the world has finally embraced the product. I wish I could have brought it home long time ago, but there were and continue to be other obstacles which we need to overcome, suffice it to say thank God, I finally was able to plant the first seed in Ethiopia!

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