CBCHS HIV Free Project Intensifies Partnership with NW Journalists
Journalists of the NW region have been reassured of their role in assisting the HIV Free Northwest and Southwest project of the Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services (CBCHS) meet the project target of ANC uptake and male participation in the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) of HIV. The partnership between the journalists and the HIV Free project was strengthened during a one day workshop that held at the Baptist Centre Conference Hall in Bamenda on April 24, 2014 aimed at updating their skills in disseminating correct messages on HIV.
Addressing the over 100 journalists from over 40 media houses in attendance, the representative of the HIV Free project Principal Investigator (PI) and Director of Health Services (DHS), Prof. Tih Pius Muffih, in the person of Mr. Monju Johnson, the Business Official of the HIV Free project assured that the partnership with the journalists has come to stay given the vital role they play in informing and educating the population. Mr. Monju excused the absence of the DHS who was attending the Chiefs of Centre meeting in Banso but said the goal of this second workshop with journalists has not changed from the first one last year.
According to the Business Official, the refresher workshop was intended to update the skills of journalists to communicate right messages in order to reach the project goal of zero HIV new infections, zero AIDS related deaths and zero stigma and discrimination. For this reason, the DHS’ representative called on the journalists to be attentive to assimilate the workshop lessons, because the project can call them up anytime to carry the message of ANC uptake and partner participation to other regions of the country. He announced that the US government is impressed with the progress of the HIV Free SW and NW project and is increasing funding, reason why he called on all stakeholders including the journalists to accelerate sensitization efforts.
The project Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) officers, Nsom Emmanuel and Keng Vitalis portrayed statistics indicating that all the other objectives in Project Year Two (PY2) have been achieved by over 90 percent except for uptake of PMTCT services, which achievement rate is far below 50 percent.
Explaining the stress on PMTCT, Mr. Nkuoh Godlove, PMTCT Supervisor for HIV Free NW said over 90 percent of HIV infected babies are through this mode. He highlighted four cardinal points of PMTCT where the HIV transmission can be halted. These include: primary prevention, prevention of unwanted pregnancies in HIV positive women of reproductive age, PMTCT and care of the mother and infants who are HIV positive.
Mrs. Lem Edith, Programme Manager of the Option B+ project, otherwise called, Test and Treat presented the road covered so far in the pilot phase. She explained that Cameroon is shifting from Option A to Option B+ regimen owing to the good examples of African countries such as Malawi and Uganda that opted for Option B+ at the onset and have succeeded to keep their HIV transmission rate at bay. She said the CBCHS is piloting the project in 12 health facilities in the Bamenda Health District and 10 health facilities in the Kumba Health District, after which the government will use the results to scale up Option B+ in the entire country. Mrs. Lem revealed that a total of 472 women have been enrolled into the programme so far representing 72 percent of the target. She, however, lamented that maternal retention/adherence is barely 7 percent, which is a serious problem requiring assistance from stakeholders as journalists to enforce behavior change communication and calling on pregnant women to attend ANC alongside their partners.
The HIV Free NW Project Manager, Ms. Kuni Esther presented the project rationale, objectives and indicators for both the NW and SW. She said the project goal is to increase HIV Free survival and reduce HIV-related maternal and child mortality by increasing PMTCT uptake in SWR and NWR to 90 percent of pregnant women and HIV exposed infants by 2016. Ms. Kuni also reviewed the ANC messages and publications for use by the journalists.
Meanwhile, the Project Documentation Supervisor, Mr. Abanda Alphonse together with the journalists made an appraisal of radio dramas for behavior change communication. He distributed a new audio CD containing fresh radio dramas and spots on HIV to each of the Radio Stations to broadcast at peak periods.
Before the workshop rose, participants made proposals to better enhance the partnership between the CBCHS HIV Free project and journalists of the NW region. With this determination, participation left with the notion that ‘HIV is fighting a lost battle’.
CPE Graduates Twin Batch of Students
Some 18 students have completed and graduated from level one of the Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) in what has been described as a twin batch. The 10 social workers and 8 chaplain interns graduated on April 11, 2014 at the Baptist Centre Conference Hall in Bamenda after going through three months of theory at the CPE training centre in Bamenda. The interns will complete the 6-month training with practicum in the hospital sites for another two and half months to end in June 2014. The colourful graduation took place in the presence of family members and CBC leaders led by the General Secretary, Rev. Godwill Ncham.
Presenting the graduates, the CPE and Community Counseling Clinic (CCC) Director, Rev. Dr. Ndongndeh Godlove said the social workers and chaplain interns have been properly trained following current standards by carefully selected lecturers and professors, some coming from State and Christian Universities. Besides intensive theoretical class work, Rev. Dr. Ndongndeh said the social workers carried out and defended research projects on diverse topics while the chaplain interns underwent one-on-one assessment with the faculty. The research topics touched on the need of social workers in almost every domain of health care structure such as services for persons with disabilities, HIV and AIDS, Palliative Care and Orphan Care among others.
Another dimension of the training was the experience the students had during the “Disability Day” in Mbingo Baptist Hospital when they were disabled throughout the day either with blindness, a broken arm or leg as a means for them to have a feel of what persons with disabilities go through in daily life. In this way, the social workers and chaplains can better minister to this category of people. They also witnessed surgical operations in the theatre in order to care for such patients and their caregivers. Their experiences were re-capsulated at the graduation in the reflections presented by two social workers, one chaplain and two external students. The presentations revealed that the CPE training unmasked their ugly selves and transformed them into their real selves.
It was from this premise that the CPE Director announced that he was presenting the graduates with confidence pending completion of their practicum in the various hospital sites. Two of the 10 social workers come from external organizations, 3 internal students and 5 new recruits. Meanwhile, one of the chaplain interns, Felix Ndoyama is from the Lutheran Hospital (Church) in Ngaoundere, which has a long standing relationship with the CBCHS.
In their greetings, the dignitaries who spoke at the graduation ceremony congratulated the students for their hard work and perseverance to go through the intense course. Their spouses were also appreciated. While the CBC Field Director, Mr. Calvin Hohn cautioned against the harmful effects of globalization in embracing such training, he rejoiced that professionals such as those at CPE/CCC are there to guide us to maintain our culture within the context of the training.
The CBC General Secretary, Rev. Godwill Ncham, himself a former student of CPE, said the programme is a discovery to bring us to a point of humility. The CBC Chief Executive Officer revealed that he is considering to having pastors take CPE as one of the requirement for ordination. Like the Field Director, the CBC General Secretary called on the graduates to operate within the social context of our society.
The same admonition came from the Director of Health Services (DHS), Prof. Tih Pius Muffih who told the graduating social workers and chaplains to operate within their limits. The DHS went down memory lane tracing that the chaplaincy department in the CBCHS began with only 2 chaplains and has grown to 38 today. On the other hand, the social works department started timidly later on in 2003 and has also grown to 19 social workers today. Prof. Tih further explained that the two services were created to fill the gap where medicine is limited.
Other highlights of the graduation ceremony included: a sketch depicting the work of social workers in the community and clinic setting, photographs and a fellowship meal.
CBCHS Leaders Attend Alumni Conference on Health Management in Kenya
Some CBCHS leaders recently participated in a GIZ sponsored Conference on Health Care Management in Nairobi Kenya. The CBCHS delegation of eight leaders was led by the Chief of Administration and Finance (CAF), Mr. Warri Denis. Amongst other things, participants at the conference made recommendations for the improvement of the health systems, which recommendations centred on the various presentations that were made. They equally sort best practices that can be shared among African countries to enhance quality health care.
The CBCHS team at the conference through the Administrator of the CBC Health Services Complex in Mutengene, Mr. Ngang Paul made a ground breaking presentation on the optimization of pharmaceutical production. Following the presentation, the Optimization of Pharmaceutical Production was chosen as the best practice in Africa. According to the HSC Administrator, participants at the conference saw pharmaceutical production in Africa as a way to generate income and sustain health systems.
Given that the law of scarcity will never change, Mr. Ngang told the press that there is need for developing countries to maximize their resources so as to help impact on health care delivery especially to the poor who are always vulnerable. He revealed that it is thanks to optimization that the Central Pharmacy is now able to produce more products like the Ringer Lactated IV Solutions 500ml and Ciprofloxacin IV Solutions 100ml among others.
The conference participants from other African countries such as Tanzania, Malawi, Uganda and Kenya were amazed at the strides the CBC Central Pharmacy is already making in the production of pharmaceutical products like Infusion Fluids (IVs), Eye Drops, Medicated Soaps and the fact that some of the processes like the production of Eye Drops have been completely automated. Mr. Ngang regretted that in spite of the interest shown by some of these countries to begin importing such products from CP, they will not be able to meet with their interest given that CP is yet to acquire certification from the International Standardization Organisation (ISO) which confirms that good manufacturing practices are followed.
He noted that they are already in the process of obtaining the ISO certification that will enable CP to meet the needs of some African countries that are currently importing the products from China and other European countries. He said the government has already granted CP an Environmental Conformity to prove that we are environmental friendly in our pharmaceutical activities. CP is also working with a quality consultant to ensure that production is done following current good manufacturing practice. He noted that these are major steps towards the ISO certification.
Over FCFA 3 Million Raised to Support CCP
A grand musical jamboree and fundraising organized by the Chosen Children Programme (CCP) of the CBCHS has taken place at the Health Services Complex (HSC) in Mutengene with slightly over FCFA 3 million raised. The solemn occasion that took place on April 4, 2014 under the theme, “Give to a needy child and receive more from God” was attended by government officials, CBCHS leaders and CBC Church leaders in the Southwest Region.
In his address, the Southwest Regional Delegate for Public Health, Dr. Victor Njie Mbome who doubles as the Vice Chairman of the CBC Health Board said initiatives like the Chosen Children Programme play a vital role in partnering with government to increase people’s access to vital health promotion, education services and programmes. He described the musical jamboree and fundraising as an opportunity to invest in a project that promotes community involvement in health care and education on healthy living and prevention of communicable diseases; which will augment and enhance government’s provision of services in maternal health, child health, HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment.
The Regional Delegate made it clear that by partnering with the CBCHS, the government is striving to provide sustainable holistic care and education to orphans as its own contribution in preparing ‘the future of our nation’. He stressed that such partnerships are because the public health care system cannot by itself meet up with these challenges especially that of addressing the health needs of vulnerable children like orphans.
In a captivating keynote address, the HSC Administrator, Mr. Ngang Paul said the CCP that was started in 2001 desires to see orphans whose parents died of HIV grow up to be balanced people in society. He highlighted that the programme offers services such as medical support, nutrition support, education support, caregivers' support and Christmas fellowship to the Chosen Children (orphans). “Desperate moments call for desperate attempts,” Mr. Ngang remarked stating that the programme has trained an engineer, doctors, nurses, teachers and military officers among others. He used the occasion to appreciate funders including the President of the Cameroon Health and Education Fund (CHEF), Dr. Thomas Welty and wife, Dr. Edie Welty as well as the North American Baptist Conference (NAB) for their support that continues to keep CCP alive.
The CBC Director of Health Services (DHS) was represented by the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for Baptist Hospital Mutengene, Dr. Fokum Gadoski Waje who reiterated that the great work of CCP in both the Northwest and Southwest Regions of Cameroon cannot be accomplished without the generosity of funders and well-wishers.
The occasion was spiced with thrilling performances from the Association of Christian Musicians (ACM), the HSC Choir and presentation of poems by the Chosen Children. The solemn presentations by the Chosen Children in which they called on all present to fight for their rights to health care and education and be their voices in society left many visibly in tears. They testified that the programme has been able to take good care of them; giving them the reason to live and hope even in the absence of their parents who are of late.
The CCP General Supervisor, Pastor Bambo Denis told the CBCHS Press that the annual local fund raising which was launched in 2010 is a strategy of the CBCHS to ensure the sustainability and expansion of the programme while reducing over reliance on external funders. In addition to the NW and SW regions where the programme has gained ground, the CCP Supervisor said there are already children benefiting from programme in the West Region. He revealed that they have plans to expand the programme to other regions of Cameroon as the means become available.
Earlier in a devotional thought drawn from Galatians 6:9 and captioned, “Continue in good deeds”, the Chaplain of HSC, Pastor Ngangeh Silas exhorted all present to take after Jesus’ example of helping the needy, assuring them that in due time God will reward those who help especially vulnerable children.
It is worthy of note that the CCP is one of the ten components of the CBCHS AIDS Care and Prevention (ACP) programme. The CCP has as main aim to provide sustainable holistic care and education to orphans within their cultural context.