Volunteers Provide Support, Learn Life Lessons in Cameroon
Upon our arrival at the Maria Rosa Nsisim Hospital, we were shaken by the significant number of children being treated for Malaria at the facility.
Volunteer Susan Schory, a Maternal Child Health Nurse from Libertyville, Illinois recently returned home from HOPE’s Volunteer Medical Rotation Program at the Maria Rosa Nsisim Hospital in Yaounde, Cameroon, a long-term land-based medical mission.
There are 3 seasons here in the Centre Region of Cameroon Rainy, (which they call the “dry season”) rainier and rainiest. It is the rainiest season, with the rain comes mosquitoes and with the mosquitoes comes a significant increase in the number of malaria cases. Mosquitoes here carry a deadly parasite called falciparum. While any malaria is a serious disease, which left untreated can be fatal, the complex malaria caused by falciparum can kill within 24 hours.
Upon our arrival at the Maria Rosa Nsisim Hospital, we were shaken by the significant number of children being treated for Malaria at the facility. Yet, we also noticed, that while there where open windows and no screens in the facility, no bed nets were provided to protect the patients during their course of treatment. In addition, while all women who receive prenatal care in this region are given nets to use throughout their pregnancy – and this has made an enormous impact – infants and children recovering from Malaria are being discharged with no nets to bring home. Addressing this issue has become one of our goals. By the end of the month all pediatric patients will have netted beds.
Today was a day filled with both elation and sorrow at the hospital. Last night pre-term twins were admitted. The young mother delivered them at a village clinic some distance away and transported them by motorcycle taxi to the hospital. The babies looked to be about 30-weeks gestation and were discordant in size, most likely twin-to-twin transfusion. They were in respiratory distress, dusky and had very low body temperatures. They have isolettes at this facility and oxygen by nasal cannula, but not many other resources to support the needs of premature neonates. We did the best we could with the resources available. One twin died during the night, the other is being treated with o2 and antibiotics, but is very, very sick.
We also admitted a woman who was about 24 weeks gestation. She lost two prior pregnancies mid-trimester and presented complaining of pain. The prior day I had taken some time to discuss maternal mortality and recognition of hemorrhage with the midwife and OB staff. It turned out to be a very fortuitous discussion- the patient began to bleed. Her risk of hemorrhage was recognized immediately and everyone moved very quickly. By the time she got to the operating room she had lost a significant amount of blood and unfortunately her baby did not survive, but the team effort was amazing; it saved her life.
It was happy day as well. I had the opportunity to assist in the delivery of two very healthy infants. First baby for both moms—Cameroonian women are very brave and strong, no epidurals or pain meds for them. Life goes on!
During my time here I think I have been most touched by the children. They have very little, yet they are filled with joy and celebrate every moment. What an example for us all. I thank the staff at Maria Rosa for their acceptance, and patience with my French (or lack thereof) and my new-found friends, Luc and Ami.
I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to meet and help care for these inspiring women and children and while I am leaving Yaoundé, I know it will never leave me.
More photos from Cameroon