By Leocadia Bongben
To prevent, avoid or postpone premature deaths, Prof. Samuel Kingue President of the Cameroon Cardiac Society urges Cameroonians to, “Take the initiative to go to hospital or a pharmacy to check the blood pressure and sugar level. With about FCFA 1000, one can know the state of the heart and health”.
Many people have high blood pressure yet do not know, and should not wait for free heart screening campaigns to check the health of their hearts, Kingue said during a ceremony at the Ngousso Public School to mark the World Heart Day on September 29.
The day was celebrated under the theme, “I protect my heart and that of my family” with the Minister of Public Health Represented by the Secretary of State at the Ministry of Public Health, Alim Hayatou.
It was an occasion for the Cardiologist to send out heart health tips to the population following the weeklong free screening carried out.
98 adults both staff and other Cameroonians were tested, revealing 19 cases of high blood pressure, 11 who did not know.
Also,1791 younger children who have a high probability of heart malformations were screened in a school of 2,599 pupils. 39 cases were suspected and further tests using high performant equipment, with precision revealed 9 cases of congenital malformations which presently do not require surgery. So, Kingue advised parents to take the children to the hospital for further treatment.
Against this backdrop, the Cardiologist underscored the importance of paying attention to children as he cautioned, “if they complain, don’t wait, feeling pain in the throat, cure with antibiotics”.
Professor David Wood, Cardiologist and President of the World Heart Federation in a message on World heart Day said, “We cannot underestimate the global importance of good heart health – 31% of all deaths worldwide are from CVD.
According to the World Heart Federation, WHF, CVD claims 17.5 million lives every year figures expected to reach 23 million by 2030. Worldwide, 1 in 10 people aged 30-70 die prematurely from CVD, including heart disease and stroke but the good news is that at least 80% of these premature deaths could be avoided or postponed.
Many people are not as lucky as the two football icons, Jean Paul Akono Sidney Olympic Gold Medallist in 2000 and Rigobert Song Bahanag legendary captain who survived heart diseases.
These two have been awarded certificates of chivalry and are now ambassadors of Cameroon Cardiac Society awarded these two certificates of chivalry and made them their ambassadors to sensitise other on cardio vascular diseases, CVD.
Created and led by the WHF the World Heart Day aims to combat the rising number of people with cardiovascular disease (CVD), the world’s biggest killer, by raising awareness and promoting the importance of living a heart-healthy lifestyle.
It is for this reason that the World Heart Federation Boss said, “World Heart Day is our chance to bring people together to tackle the world’s biggest killer and urge more people across the globe to improve their heart health. The power to change is in our hands. Making lifestyle changes such as eating more fruit and vegetables, keeping active and stopping smoking can save millions of lives.”
This year, the “WHF is urging people to act by sharing heart healthy tips and attending iconic illumination events. We can all ‘share the power’ and inspire our families, friends and communities around the world to make the small lifestyle changes that can make a powerful difference to heart health,”.
WHF Tips for a heart-health
- Become more active: Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intense activity five times a week.
- Remember even small things like taking the stairs or getting off the bus early can help
- Stop smoking – this is the single best thing you can do to improve your heart health.
- If you need help try speaking to a health professional, such as a high street pharmacist
- A more balanced diet: Try to eat 5 portions (about a handful) of fruit and veg a day
- Get your children involved in cooking to help them learn about healthy eating
- Get your blood pressure checked regularly
By Leocadia Bongben
Experts are worried that villages around dams: Songloulou, Lom Pangar, Mekin, Lagdo and Nachtigal risk disappearing if nothing is done to eliminate the black fly spreading river blindness also known as Oncerchociaisis and other vectors.
Oncerchociasis is an eye and skin disease caused by a worm (filarial) known by the scientific name ‘Onchocerca volvulus’, transmitted through bite. The body of an affected person is completely destroyed and is related with epilepsy and sexual impairment.
Ten years ago a village, in the along the Sanaga river had 150 pupils in a school, today the school has been deserted as the younger generations flees from lacerating bite of the black fly. Agricultural is abandoned leading to reduction of economic activities, as the result is ghost villages as villagers leave to town.
Dr. Pierre Baleguel Nkot, President of the Yaoundé Initiative Foundation, YIF, an NGO that intervenes in the domains of health, agriculture, environment and sustainable development, says dams are a good breeding environment for the black fly.
“The black fly breeds in fast flowing water, natural or artificial like a dam that produces white water, is oxygenated and favourable for larvae. Producing artificial water, we are creating a breeding ground for insects”, he stated.
“With about 8000 bites per minute from the black fly it is difficult for the survival of the population, besides, the new dams already have 2000 bites per minute”, Nkot laments.
As a measure of prevention, YIF is protecting people around the two dams, Edea and Songloulou, by killing the larvae inside the river, but this is done in a limited area. Consequently the black fly comes from others areas flying about 200km per day, the expert indicated.
Working to control the on the Sanaga River, Prof. Graham Matthews, Entomologist, Imperial University London says he has been treating the river between Monatele and Edea, using Temefos spread from an engine powered boat.
“The insecticide Temefos, was first used in West Africa by the WHO to treat rivers in nine countries, using an aircraft, but insecticides are not a long term solution as the vector could develop resistance”, Graham says.
In the long term to completely eradicate the black fly and other vectors, there is need to know the current situation in the whole country, the state of the black fly and other vectors, the people living in the area, the species in the environment and where they are breeding.
Against this background, in collaboration with the Ministry of the Economy, Planning and Regional Development, YIF launched a socio-environmental impact assessment of the black fly and other vectors in all the regions of Cameroon on June 21 at the Jean XXIII Centre in Nvolye.
The six-month long assessment with experts from Nigeria, London would help the government draw an eradication plan from the results, says Patrice Nsegbe, Head of Cartography at the MINEPAT and Focal Point to the impact assessment studies.
“Government has been supporting for about ten years supports YIF in the fight against the black fly. We need to make this a programme not project as it has been in the pilot zones to cover the whole country”.
He underscores the need to anticipate and put corrective measures before the projects are completed for the wellbeing of the population.
With the results of the impact assessment Cameroon could replicate what the Americans did in Tennessee in the 1930s to level water flow, though costly, Graham suggests.
By Leocadia Bongben
Cameroonians have been urged to welcome survey teams to their homes and get tested for HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B, besides biological examinations carried out in household for free.
This is the essence of the voluntary HIV/AIDS headcount; dubbed Cameroon Population-based HIV Impact Assessment-CAMPHIA which would involve 14,000 households randomly selected through-out the national territory.
Public Health Minister, Andre Mama Fouda launched CAMPHIA on March 13 at the Yaoundé Hilton Hotel in the presence of stakeholders.
CAMPHIA is funded by the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, PEPFAR, through the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC and implemented by the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, ICAP.
Launching the project, Mama Fouda urged all Cameroonians to welcome the survey teams which will have nurses, laboratory technicians to analyse the blood on the spot, test the viral load-the amount of HIV in the blood and the amount of cells that can fight HIV for those positive and direct them to where they can get treatment.
The survey teams would visit randomly selected households and gather information with their consent. The whole process is voluntary with questions asked, followed by counselling for those positive after tests and results provided the same day.
It is estimated that process would last for about seven months would commence in the days ahead with survey staff trained and ready for the field work.
The Minister reassured the public of the confidentiality of the survey and proper handling of blood according to the public health approved standards.
He underscored the importance of many Cameroonians knowing their status given that the members of a family, father mother and children would be tested.
“There is no need to be scared of knowing your status because this would help to live a responsible life. I would be happy to know my wife or child does not have HIV or Hepatitis B. If carrier of the virus, it is important to get treatment and not wait. One can have HIV without actually getting sick”, he advised.
“It is important for everybody to know their status, and for everybody to get treatment so as to reach the 90-90 90 target where 90 percent Cameroonians would know their status, 90 percent get treatment and 90 percent suppression of viral load by 2020 and eventual elimination of HIV/AIDS”.
In 2014 UNAIDS set the 90-90-90 target, an ambitious treatment three part target to be achieved by 2020.
Given that HIV/AIDS indicators are not available, Mama Fouda, maintained that the survey would help the government know if it is on track since the survey conducted in 2011. HIV/AIDS prevalence according the 2011 Demographic and Health Survey, DHS, is pegged at 4.3 percent for adults from 15-49.
The survey would also provide a broader understanding of HIV response at both national and regional level, guide investment, target programmes for with greater risks, and those in need of services most and determine user satisfaction with health systems and policy formulation.
By Leocadia Bongben
Yaounde-Are you persistently sad, lack interest and capacity to accomplish daily tasks for more than two weeks, you can consider yourself depressed.
If you also have the feeling of guilt, uselessness, trouble with sleep and appetite and losing weight, having difficulties to concentrate, talk about it and seek medical advice, because, you are depressed.
The above sums-up World Health Organisation, WHO’s definition of depression, associated with mental disorder.
The principal causes of depression are the loss of a dear one, poverty, joblessness, physical illness, abusive consumption of alcohol and drugs, besides violence and war.
Within this precinct, Dr. Jean Baptiste Rougou, WHO Cameroon Representative says depression is a reoccupying health problem, particularly in Cameroon, Africa and the world.
He made the statement during the commemoration of the World Health Day on April 7, also the date of the creation of WHO, at the Yaounde Hilton Hotel.
The day, celebrated under the theme; “Depression, Let Talk,” was chaired at by the Minister of Public Heath, Andre Mama Fouda, in the presence of the health family.
According to Rougou, attributed to witchcraft and spiritual practices, cases of depression are on the rise which makes it a public health problem.
He quoted the message WHO Regional Director, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, that, “depression, which is a major cause of incapacity, affects about 332 million people the world over, with about 30 million in Africa”.
“We are all exposed to the risk of depression which touches every person in all ages. Stigmatisation and fear of social isolation prevents those affected from going for treatment…” Moeti said.
She maintained that it is essential to identify depressive episodes from the beginning so as to avoid transformation into a chronic disease.
Depression leads to suicide which, is the second cause of deaths in the world in young people between 15-29 years, varies in age and is more acute between 55-74 years.
Dr. Felicien Ntone Enyime, psychiatrist, one of the few five for the 20 million Cameroonians, depression, which is multifaceted, affecting both the mental and physical would need the more general doctors to provide the needed care.
He equally said, to come out of a situation of depression, there is need for community services besides physical exercise, taking regular walks to sweat out depression.
WHO is helping with the Global Action Programme and intervention guide and the Global Mental Health Action plan 2013-2020 to increase and improve healthcare services for people with mental disorder, by training health workers who are not specialists in mental health to give care.
The world health body therefore urges governments to allocate more human and financial resources to support mental health programmes to respond to the growing burden. Governments also need to include mental health in national agenda in line with the Brazzaville Declaration on non-communicable diseases outlining the steps on how to achieve this.
Celebrating 55 years in Cameroon, WHO counted achievements such as: support to Government and ameliorating the health of the population, rehabilitation of health systems in Garoua, digitalisation of the health card, construction and equipment of a maternity in Bafia, blood banks in 10 health centres, vaccination and polio eradication, support to emergency units, fight against neglected tropical diseases, malaria.
However, the challenges for WHO are numerous; regaining confidence of the population in health systems, closing the gap in the distribution of health personnel and add vigour to routine vaccination, among others.
WHO projects to encourage HIV/AIDS treatment for all, reinforce capacity in the prevention and response to emergencies and disasters, fight malaria, tuberculosis, mental health, maternal and infant mortality, among others.
By Leocadia Bongben
Experts of the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan, INBAR have underscored the importance of bamboo in the fight against climate change especially with the carbon credit scheme and the restoration of the ecosystem.
It was in this light that the Minister of Forestry and Wildlife Ngolle Philippe Ngwese chaired the regional conference on the potential of bamboo and rattan, non-timber forest products known for their unique role in environmental sustainability and fight against poverty held in Yaounde from August 11-12.
INBAR Director Hans Friedriech told the conference that cutting bamboos can lead to deforestation; reduction of forest cover and on the same token can help in the sustainable use of resources and avoid cutting forest.
“Bamboos are grasses that grow very fast, so when cut, the following year new roots grow up and this goes on year after year making it a very sustainable plant which can be used for many different purposes.Because the bamboo grows so fast it plays an important role in green house carbon emissions, it absorbs more CO2 than trees and within a period of time is a veritable carbon sink”, Friedriech explained.
He added that if the world is getting into a new carbon credit scheme where trading can be done by avoiding emissions then companies can start using bamboo to compensate for their CO2 emissions, a real economic asset.
Denis Sonwa, Regional Centre for International Forestry Research expert maintained that the bamboo is under pressure in central Africa, through deforestation, which means carbon emissions contribute to climate change and on the other hand can be a solution for reafforestation on degraded soil.
“The bamboo grows on degraded soils and can contribute to soil restoration. Using bamboo to make money at the same time is adapting to climate change, being useful for Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation,REDD, the bamboo can contribute to the synergy between adaptation and mitigation of climate change.
INBAR is there to help Cameroon discover its potentials, the value chain of bamboo is impotant and has a potentail to be exploited taking the exampleof China with about 8 million people in the bamboo sector for a revenue of 30billion dollars per year.
In 2013 Cameroon signed a Memorandum of undertanding, MOU with INBAR to knit cooperation ties, improve valorisation of bamboo and rattan in Cameroon, Central and West Africa.
Within this context, training has been going on to develop the industry more with about 100 projects initiated. The result of the training Friedriech says is impresive with the production of handicraft, artifacts and jewelry. However he underlined the need to do more to improve the quality, bring in new designs and add value to make things bigger and better and find regional and international markets.
Cameroon bamboo and rattan can not yet be quantified but an inventory is being carried out in the Centre, South and Littoral and Southwest regions. Though Cameroon has only one main bamboo specie, several others were introduced years ago and in the world there are about 1600 species which can go for different uses.
To ensure sustainable use of the bamboo, there is need to expand and plant new bamboo though the root systems of the bamboo is so strong that when cut they may not disappear.The challenge however, is for actors to understand and capture the potentials.
Attended by experts from Nigeria and Liberia among others the conference ended with experts agreeing to draft a national plan on the promotion of bamboo and rattan in relation to their economic benefits, elaborate a national public policy, professionalize and support development of the sector and create awareness on the value of natural resources in order to better win the war against poverty.
By Leocadia Bongben
Despite progress witnessed in the last years with obstetric fistulas repair some women are yet not aware that their situation can change from shame to shine if they speak out and consult.
Obstetric Fistulas Prof. Tebeu Pierre Marie, Gynecologist and Obstetrician at the University Teaching Hospital, CHU, says is a communication between the bladder and the vagina or between the rectum and the vagina meaning that urine comes to the urine bag and flows directly outside because there is a hole between the urine bag and the vagina and same for stool.
Obstetric fistula occurs at childbirth in a facility where there is no skilled staff or deliveries at home and there might have been need for a caesarian section and when this cannot be done, the head of the baby can compress the bladder or rectum for a long time, in the long run the tissue loses blood supply and dies off. Within five days to one week the dead tissue falls off creating a hole, Tebeu explains.
Pulcherie Maboulle like Manka Ernestine both operated at the Yaounde University Teaching hospital did not know obstetric fistulas could be repaired.
“It was complicated because we did not know the illness can be cured. I never knew that I could come to the hospital and get repaired”, Maboulle and Manka all say respectively.
Maboulle has just been operated upon and has spent only three days in the hospital, as she says, the operation went well. “I can move around, I was even in the other block and I pass urine normally now”, Maboulle says.
For Mankaa who has had three children living with condition of having stool pass through vagina with risk of infection, all is now well after the repair.
Maboulle narrates here ordeal with the disease of shame prior her operation. “It was hell and if your man does not really like you, then be sure to be abandoned. Even within the family, any time you sit with your sisters it is either the odor of urine or feces. It is discouraging, not a life to expose in society”.
It all started in 2014 when she delivered her baby in the hospital and thought after taking antibiotics everything was going to be normal, but after two years she had to come back to the hospital.
“I went to the Gyneco-obstetric hospital but I was told repairs were only done at CHU in the whole of central Africa, I did not even know such an illness exists, so when I got CHU and was consulted I was told the free surgery campaign was over and that I could come back in May”, she said.
Since 2009, CHU has been carrying out free obstetric fistula repairs twice per year to give women a new hope in life and this year the second campaign was on from May 26 –June 6. During the free obstetric repairs the women only have to buy drugs.
As Maboulle says, “Everywhere I went I was asked about FCFA 700,000 but with the free surgery campaign at CHU I have not spent any-money except to buy drugs after the free operation as even hospitalization is free”.
According to Prof. Tebeu, the patient will spend about 300,000 to 500000 to get the fistula repaired outside the free campaign but CHU has reduced the amount by half and humanitarian organizations can help easily now because if they have to spend to operate ten women that same amount can be used to operate 20 women.
Obstetric Fistulas are a public health problem worldwide, with about 2 million women affected and in Cameroon at least 10,000 women live with fistulas and since the campaign started in 2009 more than 200 women have been operated, 20 during each campaign and twice a year but not enough.
There are more women suffering from fistulas and it is estimated that there are 1000 new cases every year, Tebeu stated.
Initially fistulas were thought to affect mostly the northern part of Cameroon due to early marriage, but there are equally women who come from the centre region with fistulas. The Domestic and Health Survey, DHS 2011 indicate that 37 percent of women in the centre region still deliver at home.
Obstetric fistula repair is a technical procedure, the gyaenacologist-Obsterician closes the hole and the woman is able to contain stool or urine and pass it out when she wants.
The percentage of complete repair is estimated at 80 percent and Tebeu says the surgery can be repeated adding that a few women can get their fistula closed but have the flow of urine through the normal channel, a condition known as post fistulas urinary incontinence which can still be operated.
But, If the hole is so big or fibrosis too much and everything is destroyed with only bones left there is a palliative measure, “remove the pipe that take urine from the kidney to the bladder and put directly to the intestine and the urine is passed out with stool”, the expert says.
Women who have been repaired of fistula say after this shameful illness there is a life with a God-sent doctor at CHU. This illness comes in childbirth, which is complicated and difficult too. It is not witchcraft but a natural illness like malaria and they encourage women to get treatment in the hospital.
After about five years of free fistula repairs there is change, women came to consult after a long time after about 30 years of bondage with fistulas, but the time lapse is now about six months and a few years.
But, there is still need for more sensitization; send the information villages to bring more women out for consultation and repairs.
By Leocadia Bongben
Marc Arthur Zang, inventor of the Cardio-Pad-a heart diagnosis and monitoring tablet has won the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation.
Worth about FCFA 21 million the prize designed by the UK based Royal Academy of Engineering was presented to Arthur Zang in the Tanzanian Capital, Dar es Salaam on May 26.
“The Money would be used for the new company I am putting up, Himore Medical in Yaounde, in the payment employees who have just signed their contracts, production of medical appliances being developed internally and to satisfy the needs of the enterprise generally.”, Zang said.
Meanwhile, during the ceremony, Zang commented, “This award has allowed me to measure myself against the best engineers in Africa. I was pushed to the limits, and it has made me a better scientist and a better entrepreneur. It has also grown my ambitions for the Cardio-Pad and my company, Himore Medical which I now aim to grow into a global leader in medical manufacturing. I am also very proud to win for my country. I hope it will help to restore hope to those who still doubt that Africa has a bright future”,
Zang competed with 11 other entrants among them finalists from Uganda-Eddie Aijuka who presented an electricity theft prevention machine, Felix Kamaru from Kenya with a website to save the lives of the mother and child, Matt Wainright with an electricity devise for rural electrification from South Africa who each bagged home about FCFA 10million.
The head Judge Malcolm Brinded on the occasion said, “I was very impressed by Arthur Zang and his team, which aims to help patients in communities where access to cardiac specialists is limited. We are very proud to have him as our second Africa Prize winner”.
Zang is the second winner of the Royal Academy Award, and was lucky to have first winner from Tanzania, Dr Askwar Hilonga present him the prize.
The Royal Academy Award encourages talented sub-Saharan African engineers, from all disciplines, to develop local solutions to challenges in their communities.
The Prize selects a shortlist of innovators from across the continent and provides training and mentoring to help turn engineers with incredible ideas into successful entrepreneurs.
Launched in 2014, the prize aims to stimulate, celebrate and reward engineers who have developed innovations that will benefit Africans.
The shortlisted Africa Prize entrants, from nine countries in sub-Saharan Africa, were provided six months of business training and mentoring during which they learned to develop business plans and market their innovations, received coaching on communicating effectively, focusing on customers and approaching investors with confidence.
The Cardio-pad is designed with an assembly of accessories such as cables fixed on the chest, knee and wrist of the patient.
Conductors are connected to the cardio-pad by Bluetooth and the data from the patient, processed and saved during the diagnosis or registration of the patient.
With a click of the button after registration, the information is sent to a cardiologist in town. With his phone or cardio-pad he can send back the diagnosis and prescription from town back to the village, Zang explains.
It suffices to insert the a sim card in the phone for the cardio-pad to be recognized in the system of selected cardiologists, he added
Nearly one in two Africans over the age of 25 has undiagnosed hypertension and an estimated 20 million Africans suffer from a cardiovascular disease. A further 80 million Africans are estimated to have abnormally high blood pressure, which can lead to heart failure.
In Cameroon it is estimated that there are only 50 cardiologists for a population of about 20million, with about 140,000 suffering from Heart diseases.
The Cardio-Pad created in 2011 would therefore contribute to the fight against heart diseases as early diagnosis could bring about treatment and avoid deaths.
Zang has set up, Himore Medical Limited- an assembly plant in Yaounde to vulgarization the Cardio-Pad already on sale in Cameroon, Gabon and India and Nepal.
The medical equipment plant will employ about 150,000 Cameroonians and Zang intends to use the profit from the sale of 43 Cardio-Pads sold at FCFA 2million each to offset the salaries of employees.
Parts of the device manufactured in China were expected in Cameroon in January and the first 100 would to be assembled would be reserved for Cameroonians.
In its early days of creation, Zang won President Biya’s Prize for innovation in July 2015 that permitted him to build the first Cardio-Pads sent to the regional hospitals.
The Cardio-Pad which Zang presented at the Health fair in Geneva won 2014 Rolex Award as the youngest laureate in applied technology and he been listed in the American Business Magazines, Forbes as one of the 30 entrepreneurs to change the future of Africa.
By Leocadia Bongben
Parents now have a reason to worry when a child is down with severe fever because this could be a symptom of Rheumatic Heart Disease.
Angel Yaya, eight years was rushed to the Shisong Cardiac Centre when she had severe fever but little did her parents expect what they heard.
Following medical investigation, the medics discovered that Yaya besides the acute rheumatic fever had joint pains, tonsils that were inflamed and jerky movements.
The doctor dropped the bomb; Yaya has a condition that does not allow her heart to pump blood well, known as Rheumatic heart disease.
Dr. Tantchou explains that acute Rheumatic fever (caused by a preceding Group A streptococcal infection, simply put, bacteria) has the ability to cause fibrosis of the heart valves leading to crippling valvular heart disease, heart failure and death.
The cardiologist says rheumatic fevers affect mostly the tonsils, heart, the central nervous system and kidneys of the children.
Tantchou disclosed that the main pathology diagnosed is when the sickness has attacked the valves and the children develop heart failure. Heart failure is a situation where there is a problem with the valves, blood no longer flows normally and the left ventricle is dilated or doesn’t contract –the ventricle no long pumps blood well and the patient swells.
Follow- up compensation or palliative treatment of heart failure only permits the patient to be fine though still having a problem, the system adjusts and the child would be as if there is no problem, but in the long run have to go for surgery, Tantchou says.
The cardiologists recommends that a child with fever should be taken to a hospital but also appeals for the improvement of sanitation and housing conditions, good water and water closets not defecating in the bush and given that the water runs back for children to drink .
“A child with sore throat and infections should be treated with antibiotics”, he says.
Prof. Samuel Kingue, Cardiologist, President of the Cameroon Cardiac Society, warns, “We should not play with sore throats, they should be treated with antibiotics, amoxicillin and ampicillin which effectively kill the germs”.
“Though not all sore throats are caused by bacteria, treatment with antibiotics is a good way of preventing complications in the heart called rheumatic heart disease”.
“Rheumatic heart diseases occur in children who suffer from untreated sore throats and this may lead to heart failure”, Kingue states.
“We followed cases of rheumatic heart diseases, for five years during which 75 percent of the children died and 100 children die every year from rheumatic heart disease in Cameroon, and concluded that mortality is high in children with rheumatic heart diseases”, Tantchou explained.
Statistics from the World Heart Foundation indicate that the burden of rheumatic heart diseases is weighing on developing countries like Cameroon with about 233,000 deaths per year.
Surgery for children with rheumatic heart diseases like most heart surgeries is still very expensive pegged at about 3.8mmilion for normal surgery and 11 million with complications huge amounts out of reach for poor income families.
The Verdzekov Heart Foundation of the Cardiac Centre has been doing a lot to source for founding to foot the bills of the underprivileged without which many would die for want of money for the operation.
Against this backdrop the open door day of the cardiac centre, on the theme “Cardiac and Vascular events” was to showcase cardiac surgery, inverse treatment of congenital and acquired heart diseases, Rev. Sister Jethro Nkenglefac, the Centre’s Manager said.
That is why on March 16, the centre reached to the population that treatment for heart diseases is available in Cameroon done in with good success like in other foreign countries.
More than 400 open heart surgeries, 100 pacemaker implants and interventional and diagnostic catheterizations have been carried out at this unique centre, in west and central Africa.
By Leocadia Bongben
Women in some years could relax and enjoy sex taking their destiny in their hands without fear of sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies by taking the female condom to the next level.
Martha Sisi, a commercial sex hawker has inserted her female condom and lays ready for her fifth client and like her colleagues, she attends to about ten customers a day.
This is just one sector besides married women and adolescents where the demand for the female is high and where there are concerns about reproductive health with many cases of abortions and other related issues.
The female condom is essential in preventing sexually transmitted diseases and promoting health for the woman but more for sex workers to better carry out their activity.
Michelle Mbiaga of Horizon Femmes an Ngo in Yaounde says, “We used to give out 2 condoms per commercial sex hawker per day and we have increased the number to 4, which is still not enough for a minimum of 20 ladies we receive in our centre per day”.
“The demand is increasing and in a year about 9000 female condoms are distributed. If Cameroon could promote the female condom stock outs can be forgotten”.
As the demand keeps increasing firms are into research to produce the best confortable female condoms acceptable like the male.
Saskia Husken, Rutgers Advocacy officer (an international NGO advocates for reproductive and sexual rights) says there are four World Health Organization WHO, approved female condoms in the market.
Some 10 years ago the female condom was found to be making plastic-like noise, but since 2007, there is a new material in the market, smooth, soft, lubricated and doesn’t make noise anymore. “This has changed though the myth still persists; Husken says as she shoves aside one of the misgivings associated with the female condom.
The female condoms available are Femidon, produced by a Female Health Company available in more than 140 countries for several years and Cupid available also in Cameroon, made of natural robber latex inserted with a ring.
In March last month, WHO approved two more responding to quality standards, HLL Velvet, made of natural robber latex, and Women’s Condom, made of very thin plastic inserted by means of a small capsule which dissolves in the female body during intercourse and much or little lubricant can be applied at the convenience of the user.
The panty condom is one of the innovations underway not yet approved but an idea that seems to draw interest of women given that it is actually a pant with a condom stuck to it and not removed during intercourse. “Looking at the preferences of women and men, it a panty with a small condom placed inside and which unfolds itself in the female body”.
With a variety of female condoms available it is expected that competition will lead to price reduction opening up access to the product.
Though the female condom is better taken into consideration since 2003, more than 3 million distributed in Cameroon by Association Camerounaise pour le Marketing Social, ACMS, the needs are enormous Cameroon still grapples with stock-outs, accessible and availability.
The snag is that maternal, infant and adolescent health programmes and projects have been financed by donors who only allow Cameroon to choose form its variety of projects and programmes.
International donor funding is dwindling and there is need to look within the country for funding both in the public and private sectors.
The Global Financial Facility, GFF- a trust fund with money available for urgent work is set aside to coordinate better funds spent on reproductive health and Cameroon is among the 12 countries to benefit from the facility-looking at how to organize their own funding to keep reproduction health issues on the radar.
Cameroon launched its programme to ameliorate maternal, infant and adolescent health last year May 2015 and would get the assistance of donors, World Bank and other partners from 2015-2030 to reflect on how to turn the tide on maternal mortality and ensure protection of adolescents against HIV/AIDS and early pregnancies.
To turn the tides in bring down maternal mortality that has almost doubled from 430 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1998 to 782 in 2011 meaning about 7000 women lose their lives every year due to pregnancy related causes, one method often neglected is the female condom- a key method for women’s health.
FESADE, Femmes-Sante-Developpment, an NGO in Yaounde in collaboration with other civil society organizations are mobilizing communities on the advantages of the female condom and advocating for the female condom to be part of the priorities in the document Cameroon is going to submit to the GFF.
Following a study on the state of the female condom FESADE Coordinator, Urbain Akono Abega maintains that government has a clear vision concerning the female condom in ameliorating reproductive health but the policies are not translated into concrete actions.
The budget for reproductive health estimated at FCFA 100 million per year fluctuates despite the needs to the tune of about a billion and sadly too, what is set aside at times is used for other purposes than purchase contraceptives.
With the GFF, the manner of addressing maternal health problems is set to change as Cameroon is given the opportunity to define its priorities and explore ways of financing them.
Civil Society Organizations, CSO have been integrated in the preparation of the GFF document with the sectorial strategy pilot committee that gives orientation having nine CSO representatives who wish not only to be part of the conception but also monitor implementation process.
Since 2009, Rutgers has been working in Cameroon with a local partner FESADE within the programme universal access to female condoms in programming and advocacy.
FESADE and its partners during an advocacy meeting in Yaounde on March 28, took the commitment to ensure that the female condom and other contraceptives are introduced in the national strategy of family planning and HIV/AIDS prevention.
More efforts, financing and promoting for years are needed to promote the female condom in maternal health but, hospital reception, prenatal care and training of midwives, caesarian delivery are other issues that have to be ameliorated in the reproductive health package.
Government has put in place measures in its strategy to reduce maternal mortality that are already implemented at the emergency unit of the central hospital but more needs to be done.
By Leocadia Bongben
More than 3,000 hectares of rainforest bordering the Dja Faunal Reserve in the Chinese Hevea Sud Rubber has been destroyed.
According to Greenpeace, an international environmental NGO, agro-business promoters are moving deeper into Cameroon’s forest as they calculate the gains they can make from either rubber or palm oil.
Looking at future benefits in palms and rubber agro-industries, land is an essential commodity and the Cameroon destination is good to open up plantations.
This entails large portions of land and has inherent consequences, ranging from encroachment into reserved forest areas, displacement of wildlife and forest communities and climate change. Greenpeace has raised an alarm that agro-business companies are destroying vital rainforest habitat for chimpanzees and other great apes by their expansion projects in Cameroon.
Besides that, the NGO said there are indications that a Cameroon company, Azur, is targeting large portion of dense forest in the Littoral Region, (about 60,000 hectares) adjacent the Ebo Forest and a proposed National Park harbouring many primates, to convert to oil palm.
These are not the only agro-industrial companies that are opening up large areas for oil palm. In the Southwest, Herakles requested for about 75,000 hectares of land for their palm plantation, though Government finally allocated 20,000 hectares.
Dr. Joshua Linder, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at James Madison University, says; “Agro-industrial developments will soon emerge as a top threat to biodiversity in the African Tropical Forest Zone”.
To the Anthropologist; “If proactive strategies to mitigate the effects of large-scale habitat conversion are not soon implemented, we can expect a rapid decline in African primate diversity. In the forest sector, there are lots of projects in mining, logging and agro-business and, civil society proposes that Government should be watchful.
Greenpeace says industrial agricultural concessions owned by foreigners are allocated without proper land use planning.
In this vein, Messe Venant, Congo Basin Regional Representative of Forest Peoples and head of AKANI, a BAKA NGO based in Bertoua, indicates that Government, in giving out concessions, has to relocate the communities.
What obtains is a situation where there is land demarcation and business is going on and nothing is done for the people in the forest. To develop communities, they need to have land, the expert argued. The consequence is that, besides social conflicts arising from clearing the forest due to lack of dialogue with the communities, there are negative ecological impacts, endangered wildlife species may overlap into forest areas with high biodiversity.
Against this backdrop, “Governments need to urgently develop a participatory land use planning process prior to the allocation of industrial concessions”, Irene Wabiwa, Greenpeace Forest Campaign Manager for Africa indicates.
Besides, experts say as the second largest rainforest in the world, the Congo Basin, which includes Cameroon forest, is rich in diverse ecosystems and conserving the ecosystem is vital for the fight against climate change.
According to Richard Eba’a Atyi, Coordinator for International Forestry Research Centre, CIFOR, for Central African Region, even though clearing for agriculture is not the biggest contributor compared to fossil fuel on forest degradation, it has the potential to increase emissions of carbon dioxide responsible for greenhouse gases leading to climate change.
In order to mitigate the effects there is need to plant trees and avoid deforestation, he said.