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Bamenda Referral Hospital, veritable Injectio for the North West

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Bamenda Referral Hospital, veritable Injectio for the North West
Bientôt un hub sanitaire à l' Hôpital de référence de Bamenda
Abakar Ahamat : « Tous les projets annoncés par le chef de l’Etat sont sur les rails »
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If there is one thing the North West Region prides itself of today, it is the absence of an epidemic. Two cases of cholera spotted in the region by the end of 2010 and early this year were quickly evacuated. But the absence of an epidemic does not entail the region is free of diseases, nor does it mean it is void of a pandemic.

According to the Regional Delegate of Public Health, Dr. Victor Ndiforchu Afanwi, the region remains one of the most hit by HIV/AIDS. “Latest statistics indicate it has an HIV prevalence rate of 8.7 percent”, he told CT. That said, health officials in the region are convinced if the population is doing relatively well health wise, it is because it is well sensitized on how to handle water to avoid contracting illnesses. It is on the basis of this that Dr. Ndiforchu Afanwi describes the situation as “relatively calm.” But this remains mechanical calmness for; the North West region is languishing in scarcity; shortage of health facilities, insufficient health centres, medical doctors, nurses and other paramedical staff.

With a population of over 1.8 million people, the region presently boasts of 18 Health Districts, 215 government health areas, 207 health units representing 67.6 percent of the region’s health facilities. Statistics from the regional head office indicate the region has a total of 76 medical doctors. In which case, the doctor/population ratio stands at one doctor to 23,684 patients. Each of the health districts, according to health officials in the region, ought to have at least, a district hospital. Two of the health districts are in Kumbo alone where the missionaries have taken an edge in health activities. In effect, two of the region’s major confessional hospitals, Shisong General Hospital with its newly commissioned Cardiac Centre and Banso Baptist Hospital affectionately known as BBH, are found in Kumbo, one under Kumbo West and the other in Kumbo East. Some health districts simply have medicalised hospitals. All district hospitals are free treatment centres for tuberculosis.

The health map of the North West prides it self of only one Regional Hospital located in Bamenda. In a bid to control hikes in the price of medicines, government created the North West Special Fund for Health which has as mission to distribute medicines to health units. It is jointly run by the Ministry of Public Health and the community. Drugs sold by the fund are all homologated.


Impressive Private Sector

The private sector continues to play an important role in health activities in the North West Region with the missions; Catholics, Baptists and Presbyterians in outright domination. Of the 306 health units operating in the region, 32.4 per cent belong to the private sector, including confessional and lay private, 2.6 per cent community and 67.6 per cent government. Of the 99 private health units, 80 belong to missionaries. The lone cardiac centre which is expected to serve Cameroon and the whole of the Central and West African sub regions the Shisong Cardiac Centre, belongs to the Catholic mission.

In as much as the private sector continues to play its role in the region, government health structures remain in high demand. The Regional Hospital of Bamenda remains the epicentre of health structures in the North West. For one thing, it has specialised sections that are found nowhere else. To go by the Regional Delegate, it has the only reference laboratory in the country for tuberculosis. This laboratory is said to have started a month ago with inputs from abroad. The second specialised section has to do with kidney problems. The Haemodialysis Centre was offered by the Head of State and remains heavily subsidized. It handles cases of people suffering from kidney failure.

The North West has five government health training schools, all located in Bamenda. This is supplemented by two other major training schools belonging to the mission in Shisong and BBH. The schools are known to be training essentially paramedics. But there is hope the situation could improve in no distant time following the introduction of the health departments sector in the newly created Cameroon Christian and Catholic Universities where full fledged doctors will be trained.

Referral Hospital

The creation of the Referral Hospital completes the whole referral system. In effect, the medical referral pyramid begins with the first level, which is the hospital, proceeds to the second level, which is the Regional Hospital, and then the third level which is the Referral hospital itself. That was lacking in the region and this according to health officials, was disturbingly costly to the patients who had to pay extra to travel either to Douala or Yaounde. “This is a wonderful stage needed in the region and we thank the Head of State for that gap”, Dr. Ndiforchu Afanwi said.

From every indication, even though the Head of State said he was talking about studies, things seem to be moving very rapidly. According to the Governor of the North West Region, Abakar Ahamat, the Minister of Public Health has already requested that land be allocated to fast-track studies and configuration. “I have asked the SDO for Mezam to propose three building lands to give technicians the latitude to choose”, he told CT, stating that the SDO has already had two of them.

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