The Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services (CBCHS) is a nonprofit, Faithbased healthcare organization, which started over 60 years ago in a small village (Mbem) in Donga/Mantung Division of the North West Province. It has over the years expanded into six of Cameroon's 10 regions: Northwest, Southwest, Center, West, Adamawa, and Littoral. Services offered by the CBCHS range from village Primary Health Care to highly specialized hospital based care with an integration of other social services. It comprises 6 hospitals (2 of which are 250 bed hospitals), over 25 integrated Health Centers, 50 primary Health Centers, Pharmaceutical procurement and distribution department, a Baptist Training School for Health Personnel (BTSHP), a Center for Clinical Pastoral Education and Social Services (CECPES), Services for People with Disabilities, among others. The CBCHS works in partnership with national and international governmental and nongovernmental health care organizations, and funding agencies in Africa and other parts of the world.
The scope of activities within the CBCHS spans beyond healthcare provision as it equally participates in poverty alleviation by sponsoring microproject loans to women through the Women’s Initiative for Health Education, and Economic Development Cameroon (WINHEEDCAM) Website: www.winheedcam.org. This body receives funding from the US based philanthropic organization, endPoverty.org. To better manage these loans and provide trustworthy banking services, the Board created the Mutual Guarantee Financing Company (MUGFIC), a microfinance institution, which functions with credibility, efficiency and transparency. Website: www.mugfic.com. Both WINHEEDCAM and MUGFIC empower the poor financially to enable them invest in productive activities and become selfdependent. Also, the CBCHS has over the years pioneered the provision of various services to the Cameroonian public including formal education for people with disabilities (the blind, the deaf, and even those who have lost limb(s) due to leprosy). The Board also rehabilitates some of these physically challenged people in their various communities.
Medical experience and training
Initially, the CBCHS trained most of its workers abroad. But today, the CBCHS’s Baptist Training School for Health Personnel (BTSHP) trains certified nurses, midwives, dental assistants; laboratory, pharmacy, xray, physiotherapy, biomedical assistants and primary health care technicians. The school also offers personnel of the CBCHS screening and other specialized trainings.One important achievement of the CBCHS is the fact that the organisation has gone beyond first level training to offer specialized training in various domains like the Pan African Academy of Christian Surgeons (PAACS) residency program, the Christian Internal Medicines Specialization (CIMS) program, and so on. Medical students and residents from Cameroon, the United States, Canada, Britain, Switzerland and Germany visit the CBCHS every year for practical experiences in Tropical Medicines. The organisation also offers unique opportunities for medical and paramedical practitioners to volunteer their services for patients while at the same time giving the Cameroonian staff the chance to upgrade their skills. Cameroonian and expatriate physicians equally offer highquality health services in many institutions of the CBCHS around the country. This has raised the organisation’s institutions to some of the most excellent medical infrastructure in Cameroon and the Central and West African subregions. In fact Mbingo and Banso Baptist Hospitals today rank among the highest referral hospitals in Cameroon.
HIV & AIDS activities
Another crucial activity of the CBCHS is the fight against HIV and AIDS, which it has championed for several years now. In 1999, the organisation created a community based AIDS education program called AIDS Care and Prevention Program (ACP). The program today is a huge and comprehensive one with 11 components. In 2004, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) named the CBCHS as a “best and promising practice” in the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT) in the Central and West African subregions. Because of the results it yielded, the CBCHS was empowered to become the regional training center in PMTCT and reproductive health for 18 countries in West and Central Africa with support from Action for West Africa Region (AWARE). Since then the CBCHS has trained health personnel from 15 African countries and helped them to start or strengthen PMTCT services back in their own home countries.
The CBCHS has a wellbuilt chaplaincy service in all its institutions, which works with other services of the Board to meet the psychosocial and spiritual needs of both staff and patients. The Center for Clinical Pastoral Education and Social Services (CECPES) is specialized in training Christian chaplains, professional Christian counselors and church pastors for effective Pastoral Care and Social ministries of the church. It acts as an ideal handson practicum site for social workers and a mentoring facility for young seminarians who desire to form solid pastoral and ministerial identities as well as receive seminary credits for their degrees.