Bringing “Hope for Health” to Rural Cameroon

Fotabong is a rural village in Cameroon’s remote southwest region, where there are few healthcare providers to meet the needs of a population that is generally in poor health. The government-owned local hospital serves 21,000 people, typically receives up to 100 patients a day, and as of 2011, it was badly in need of repair. And, although the government of Cameroon assigned a medical officer to oversee the hospital, competing priorities led to limited supervision, and over time, the quality of medical care in Fotabong deteriorated, leading to a lack of confidence in the hospital and a loss of access to basic healthcare for local and regional residents.

To address these issues, Heart to Heart International (HHI) partnered with BD, a leading global medical technology company with a commitment to advancing the world of health, and the Cameroon Ministry of Health to develop Hope for Health – a unique partnership between the community, government, social and private sectors to improve access to healthcare in Fotabong by improving both the physical infrastructure of the hospital, and its management and oversight.

As part of its commitment, BD donated products and services, and sent a team of 12 associate volunteers to Fotabong for a three-week engagement, as part of the BD Volunteer Service Trip (VST) Program. The volunteers took an active role in training community healthcare workers, improving laboratory quality, overseeing the installation of a new roof for the hospital, upgrading plumbing and electrical infrastructure, and working with hospital administrators to plan for financial sustainability.

At the conclusion of the BD Volunteer Service Trip, the group was proud to report several key accomplishments, including:

  • training 22 community healthcare workers, three nurses, and two laboratorians;
  • outfitting the lab and working with the hospital staff to developing a proposal for funding to increase testing capacity at the hospital laboratory, in order to provide better patient care, resulting in increased revenue to the hospital;
  • training the physician and hospital administrators on good business practices; (looking at sustainable revenue)
  • replacing the roof on the main hospital and totally renovating the interior – including OR and laboratory
  • providing a generator for a reliable/consistent power source
  • installing electrical wiring and plumbing in the hospital;
  • installing a new water tank and a well (just completed) – the hospital had no water prior to BD VST
  • hiring a new physician, lab tech, nurse and cleaning person for Fotabong hospital, which has helped steadily increase patient volume.
  • Provided funding to purchase an ambulance

A BD Volunteer Service Trip team plans to return in spring 2019 to continue the effort to support healthcare improvements for Fotabong and the surrounding communities. For the countless medical facilities across the world in need of support, partnerships such as this serve to inspire hope for new collaborative arrangements that can rally resources to address urgent healthcare needs.