Groundwork Set for Impactful Health Education in Cameroon
Malaria is the number one illness we treat in the Emergency Department and on the medical and pediatric floors of the Maria Rosa Nsisim Hospital in Cameroon.
What an interesting experience. I have loved most of it, but the heat and humidity are hard for me and the lack of running water is a real challenge. Not only is there no running water at the place we are living, but there is no running water in the hospital as well. It is amazing to me that the staff at the hospital does such a great job with so few resources.
Malaria is the number one illness we treat in the Emergency Department and on the medical and pediatric floors of the Maria Rosa Nsisim Hospital in Cameroon. Many of the patients that come into the hospital have experienced Malaria before. They know what to expect and they come to the hospital for treatment, fairly early in the course of the illness. They do not want to experience the full wrath of the disease.
In Cameroon, all pregnant women and new babies are provided with bed nets from the government to help protect them from Malaria. Yet even if they can make the long trip to town too pick up the nets, they are not always used consistently. Many of the mothers have other children at home, who do not have bed nets, complicating the situation. And bed nets only protect people from mosquito bites while they are in bed. Unfortunately, in Cameroon, there are many other opportunities to get bitten by the Anopheles mosquitoes that carry the disease, so people end up being exposed, in spite of the protective nets.
The next most common diagnosis at the hospital where I am working is HIV/AIDS. Many of the patients that we have examined are already aware that they are HIV positive, yet they stop taking their medications.
Like the bed nets, the government of Cameroon provides HIV positive patients with free anti-retroviral medication. But free medicines are only part of the solution. While the medicines are free, the patients must pay for the lab work that is required to get the medications. Stigma in the community is also a problem. The people tend to stop taking the medications so that others in their village do not find out they are HIV positive.
So, as you can see, I am keeping busy, learning a lot and hopefully providing the mentoring and education that will help the dedicated staff at the Maria Rosa Nsisim Hospital provide a higher level of care.