This is the second post from Alie Tawah ’11, a Hiatt WOW Fellow interning in Cameroon.
The health care system in Cameroon is very interesting in the way it was built. The nation has about one doctor for every 10,000 people, so most health care providers are nurses. The system is organized in such a way that most people go through nurses or others who have been trained when they have basic health problems and go to the doctors when the problem is really serious or if they have the right connections. I have spent a few days both in the Integrated Health Care Center of Azire and at the North West Regional Hospital. From those days spent at those places, I was able to observe the first interaction of the community with the healthcare system as well as the more equipped hospitals and how they deal with the patients. On my travels I have met many wonderful people.
The Integrated Health Care Centers are really interesting because they focus on mostly preventive medicine and they engage in many community programs. Each week they host community lecture session on different topics such as one for family planning, one for expecting mothers, and one for other basic ideas such as that of hygiene and eating habits — as well as common misconceptions. One thing I noted as I observed these sessions was that about 90% of the people who attended were women. In addition to the community sessions, there are social mobilizers who are members of the community chosen and trained to treat basic health problems as well as sensitize the population on any given public health problem such as polio, onchocerciasis or malaria.
The members that work at the region also have a chance to help with implementation in the community. They coordinate the information sent from the central level and make sure it is distributed appropriately. I had the chance to attend an information session for the social mobilizers which provided them with information to sensitize their given populations on prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV/AIDS.
I am actually almost done with my work here but each day continues to bring in its share of interesting experiences.
Alie Tawah ‘11