News and Information
According to the Governor, the baby belongs to both the man and the woman therefore, “No woman should give birth in the house,” he decried. The NW Governor was speaking on April 23, 2013 at the Conference Hall of the North West Special Fund for Health (NWSFH) during the Dissemination of Year 1 Results of HIV Free Southwest and Northwest Project by the Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services (CBCHS). Governor Lele L’Afrique used the occasion to hail the CBCHS’ indefatigable efforts in the fight against HIV and AIDS in Cameroon as a whole and in the NW and SW in particular.
The Governor equally threw flowers on the US government’s President Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) approved funding through the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to the CBCHS. The project covers a 5-year period (2011 to 2016) and aims at scaling up and improving HIV Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) in the SW and NW regions of Cameroon.
For his part, Dr. Ndoforchu Victor Afanyi, NW Regional Delegate of Public recommitted his support to the CBCHS as one of the leading healthcare providers in Cameroon. The Regional Delegate prayed that the objectives set by the CBCHS for ANC update in the NW and SW would be met for service improvement in these regions.
The high point of the event was the power point dissemination of Year 1 Results of the HIV Free SW and NW Project by Prof. Tih Pius Muffih, Principal Investigator and Director of Health Services (DHS). The DHS presented a balance sheet showing improvement above targets in all the seven main objectives of the project for both the NW and SW regions. Prof. Tih said over 8000 pregnant women had access to care just within the first year of the project from September 30, 2011 to September 29, 2012. By the end of year one, the project had reached a total of 555 facilities with PMTCT/MCH services (230 in the SWR and 325 in the NWR). The project exceeded its average target for both regions moving from 37.4% to 45.4% by the end of 2012 for population coverage of pregnant women tested for HIV and who know their results.
Although the percentage of men as partners in PMTCT remains negligible, the DHS commended the slight improvement of three percent and called on the men to accompany their partners to ANC at least once during the period of pregnancy. Prof. Tih said this will give an opportunity for the entire family to be tested and stay healthy.
The project faced major challenges during its first year of implementation. Some of these include: difficult terrain in places like Bakassi, Akwaya, Furawa, Ako and Nwa; inadequate/absence of health personnel in remote communities, occasional stock out of ARTs at Care and Treatment Centres, the existence of unregistered health facilities offering services to pregnant women (a situation which the DHS appealed on the Redional Delegate to crack down), and the absence of a tie breaker test, which the project is depending of the Ministry of Public Health to approve and supply one.
In spite of these challenges, Prof. Tih assured that the future is bright by urging all pregnant mothers to attend ANC. “We’re improving on services, but only you can improve on your health, “ the public health expert cautioned. The DHS acknowledged CDC/PEPFAR for choosing the CBCHS to implement this major grant in Cameroon. He thanked the partnership with the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) and the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) as well as the Ministry of Health for the confidence and support given to the CBCHS. Above all, the DHS appreciated the entire project staff for a job well done.
Convention leaders, missionaries, government officials, traditional rulers, hundreds of staff and former colleagues all converged at CBC Church Kumbo on Saturday, April 20, 2013 to celebrate the life of Sister Kathryn Anne Kroll, former missionary and long serving principal of the CBC Private Training School for Health Personnel (PTSHP) Banso. Sister Kathy Kroll, as she was fondly called, passed unto eternity on March 12, 2013 after battling with her failing health for five long years.Kathy Kroll came to Cameroon in August 1970, when she was barely 25 years old as a missionary of the North American Baptist Conference. She joined the Medical Board of the CBC in 1972 as chief of post and nurse midwife at Mbem Baptist Health centre, after serving as a school nurse and teacher at Saker Baptist College for close to two years. In 1984, she moved to BBH and two years later she was appointed Principal of the CBC Private Training School for Health Personnel. She held that position until 2008 when she suffered a severe brain damage and was flown back to the USA for medical attention.
It is from this backdrop that Rev. Ncham Godwill, General Secretary of the CBC and main speaker at the memorial service exhorted Christians in a message drawn from 2 Corinthians 1:8-11 on the topic, “Our sufferings as servants of God”. Contrary to some school of thoughts that hold that suffering is not the portion for believers, Rev. Ncham Godwill said he believes suffering plays an important role in the life of a child of God, as it brings him or her to a place of total dependence upon God. The CBC scribe explained that it is in times of suffering that we come closest to God. According to the man of God, suffering does not negate our identity as children of God; instead, it enhances it as our reaction to it speaks tons to onlookers. Drawing inspiration from the life of Sister Kathy who left her comfort zone and lived a frugal life in a foreign land, the General Secretary called on all present to emulate her example of love, sacrifice and selflessness in their service to mankind. While praising the missionaries for their commitment to their call, Rev. Ncham encouraged them not to depend on their abilities, but to totally lean on the never failing strength of their great God.
Sister Kathy Kroll spent 38 years of her life serving the people of Cameroon, from the Bamouns to the Bamilekes, through the many indigenous groups of the North West Region in various capacities. As the CBC Director of Health Services, Prof. Tih Pius puts it, she will be remembered as one “who fully identified with the poor, sat by pregnant women in labor and assisted them to give birth, and was everything to everyone”. Adieu Sister Kathy Kroll!!
The Chairman of the Health Board Pension Plan (HBPP), Prof. Tih Pius Muffih, who doubles as the CBC Director of Health Services (DHS) has called on HBPP committee members to redouble efforts in continuously educating CBC Health Services staff on the advantages of the scheme. Prof. Tih was speaking Friday, June 28, 2013 during the HBPP Management Committee Meeting at the Basement Hall of the DHS Residence in Bamenda.
Addressing the delegates drawn from some CBCHS institutions, the HBPP Chairman said the scheme was created to enable the staff to be able to carry out major personal projects such as building a house, pursuing further studies, sponsoring offspring in school and saving money to ensure stress-free retirement. According to him, out of the about 2.500 employees of the CBCHS, only about 1.400 of them are part of the HBPP, reason why he stressed on continuous education of the staff especially the new ones to join. Prof. Tih told those present that though other objectives might have added along the years, there is need for continuous education of staff to stick to the original objectives of the scheme.
Prof. Tih explained that the CBC HBPP was created at the time when banks were going into liquidation and this would have been precarious for workers who had money in commercial banks. This necessitated the creation of the scheme within our system where workers can save in anticipation for retirement, Prof. Tih expatiated. For this reason, Prof. Tih appealed on all CBCHS staff to join the HBPP scheme stating that “It has something to offer them”.
One of the key issues that came under review at the committee meeting was the defaulting rate especially of CBCHS ex-staff. The HBPP Chairman said in the past there had been a lot of irregularities given that some staff borrowed money and never paid back. “This is the dawn of a new era. I will stop at nothing to ensure that those who want to destroy the plan are stamped out,” he cautioned. He continued to tell the board members that, “We’ll do all it takes to recover debts owed the scheme by ex-staff.”
Another major revelation at the meeting was the fact that the HBPP recently came out of deficit balance, according to records with the CBC Central Accounting Office (CAO). While presenting the updates/report of activities to the Management Committee members, the Manager, Mr. Kwieh Mbounda Elvis explained further that the deficit balance at the CAO at the beginning of 2012 which stood at FCFA 29 million witnessed a drop by over 56 per cent at the end of 2012, bringing the deficit balance as at 31st December, 2012 to FCFA 12 million despite huge unresolved accounts receivables. The board members therefore resolved to put in place tighter safety measures to ensure that the scheme is never plunged into deficit any longer. For instance, clients applying for loans might soon have to submit a plan on how they intend to use the money, be it for business, building, education, to mention but a few. In a chat with the CBCHS Press, the HBPP Manager, Mr. Kwieh said given the fact that they are out of deficit balance is not to say laisser-faire will be tolerated in the way loans are granted. “Clients who have projects and are qualified have the right to apply for a loan. We cannot restrict staff who are qualified for a loan,” the HBPP Manager reiterated.
The meeting also gave the committee members the opportunity to review the 2012 financial and income statements, balance sheet and budget. Meantime, a special committee was set up to work on a proposed budget for 2014 to be considered for adoption in the next come-together.
Speaking at the close of the meeting, the HBPP Chairman appreciated the enthusiasm of all the committee members and urged them to continue to work to ensure the growth and sustainability of the scheme. He prized the efforts of the present HBPP Manager and his close aide in making sure that the scheme keeps breathing every day. He announced the coming of a new staff to join the two in the coordination office in Bamenda to enable them fully champion the affairs of the scheme.
CBCHS Graduates Five more Specialist Doctors; Three General Surgeons, Two Internists
The caliber of dignitaries at the event was telling of the significance of the event; family members, CBCHS family, CBC officials led by the President, Mr. Chebonkeng Joseph Kalabuse, government officials represented by the D.O of Belo, Ni John Fru Ndi, Chairman of the Social Democratic Front party accompanied by Barrister Sama Francis, President of Cameroon Bar Association, medics, faculty members and partners, some of who included: Dr. Wayne Koch, Professor of ENT, head and neck surgery from John Hopkins University School of Medicine USA, Dr. David Strycker from Tandala Hospital DRC, Prof. Chia Emmanuel, Vice Chancellor of Cameroon Christian University and Dr. Bruce Steffes, CEO of PAACS.
Each of these dignitaries took turns to throw flowers on the CBCHS for her innovations in healthcare provision in Cameroon and now to the rest of Africa via the residency programmes based in MBH to train specialist doctors. Dr. David Strycker from the Evangelical Free Church, DRC was deeply touched by the graduation of the resident from Congo. Dr. Bruce Steffes, CEO of PAACS was honoured and proud that PAACS was a solution to resource limit African countries such as Liberia, DRC, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Cameroon among others who are in dire need of general surgeons. Dr. Bruce noted that training of PAACS surgeons in Mbingo was in no way sub-standard. He revealed that 60 percent of surgeons in the USA are trained in hospitals as is the case in Mbingo and not in a University. The CEO of PAACS further revealed that many African countries do not have surgeons, thus the need for PAACS to fill this gap.
CBC President, Mr. Chebonkeng Joseph wished to see the day when the CBCHS will graduate as many as 50 specialist doctors to meet the needs of Cameroonians in the hinterlands. According to the President cum journalist, the government cannot provide all the care to the people. As President of the CBC, Mr. Chebonkeng charged the graduates to be true representatives of PAACS and CIMS in their various countries. On his part, Prof. Chia Emmanuel said the importance of Christian doctors cannot be over emphasized. The university don saluted the cordial ties the CBCHS has with the Cameroon Christian University (CCU). The Vice Chancellor made an open invitation for qualified doctors to come on board and develop the training of doctors at CCU, which is at a budding stage.
The SDF National Chairman, Ni John Fru drew much applause when he said that he came to the occasion to identify with health. The politician asked “What is politics when the people are not healthy?” He was overjoyed that specialist doctors can now be trained at his door steps. Ni John however cautioned the graduating doctors to shun corruption because they were graduating to go into a society full of corruption. The same admonition came from the Divisional Officer of Belo who represented the Governor of the NW Region who was occupied with other state duties. The governor’s representative acknowledged the CBC as a veritable partner of government through the valuable contributions the CBC is making in education, health and evangelism. On this score, the D.O told the graduates not to commercialize the knowledge they now have.
In his commencement address, the CBC Director of Health Services (DHS), Prof. Tih Pius dwelled on the topic, “Beginning a new life with success in mind” from five perspectives. According to the professor of public health, commencement means beginning which means the graduates are going out to begin working in new places. He challenged them to go out to practice their skills and not to be masters over poor patients. He said what you get out of life is what you put into it. Prof Tih told the graduates that a Diploma is only crowned by excellence thus, the need for them to work hard. He further told them to ‘use what you’ve to achieve your goal’, because as he put it, “In Africa, medics move about with their equipment in their heads. I urge you to value what you’ve, use it”. More importantly, the DHS cautioned that teamwork is critical to success. He called on the graduates to use their newly acquired knowledge to think strategically, empower other colleagues, act responsively and make success happen wherever they are.
In their different responses, each of the five graduates thanked God, their spouses, their funding organizations, the CBCHS family and their faculty members for playing major roles in their success stories. In particular, Dr. Jerry Fahnloe Brown from Liberia and Dr. Milla De Gaulle Atengol from the DRC said they are returning to their various countries to solve diverse health concerns of their populations. Meantime, the three Cameroonians will work within the CBCHS. Dr. Koudjou Armand has been posted to Mboppi Baptist Hospital Douala while Dr. Mbanga Evans and Dr. Ekwen Gerald Takem go to Baptist Hospital Mutengene in the SW Region of Cameroon.
In his closing remark, the chairman of the CBC Health Board, Dr. Jonah Wefuan announced that the Board is already discussing the possibility of adding Family Medicine and Obstetrics/Gynecology training as well. The retired internist said medicine is a life-long learning process. In his words, “The sack of advice never gets full”. From this perspective, Dr. Wefuan advised the graduating specialist doctors to continue in learning, researching and cross-checking prescriptions with other colleagues.
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