By Tata Mbunwe
Mamfe District Hospital authorities and patients have hailed medical humanitarian NGO, Doctors Without Borders, for installing a 150KVA generator, water tanks and other equipment, lifting the health facility from its two dire needs – electricity and water.
During an occasion in Mamfe Wednesday, September 8, to officially install the generator and other equipment, hospital director, Dr John Tabi Mforsong, said the generator “is a major part of the solution to the electricity problem of the hospital” as the town staggers in blackout for over two months now.
“Mamfe in general has been in darkness for close to two months and if the hospital has no power then work becomes really impossible because all the equipment, patients’ safety and everything depends on electricity.
So I think it’s a welcomed gift,” says Dr Mforsong.
MSF brought the 150KVA power supplier to the hospital on July 31 this year and, since then, “it has not experienced any power failure,” he said.
MSF also constructed a water treatment unit and a waste management centre for the hospital worth millions of francs CFA.
Other items donated include a blood bank fridge, a solar air conditioner for the pharmacy, oxygen concentrators, patient monitors, suction and syringe pumps, voltage stabilizers for all medical equipment, cleaning material, and mosquito nets for patients.
According to Benson Agbor Besong, Mamfe’s 1st Deputy Mayor, the donated generator is a “milestone event in the hospital” and will revive the facility as it was “dead” without electricity.
“This, in fact, is a turning point in the life of the District Hospital. A performance pact so to say. This is the renewal of faith in the institution. It will ensure better performance, more and new innovations that will attract more patients…,” he said.
The waste management facility, which includes a medical waste crusher, was intelligently constructed to reduce any infections or hazards to patients and their caretakers, said MSF’s Southwest Emergency Coordinator, Zakaria Mwatia.
“All these facilities we are installing they are meant to stay here for long; they will remain in the community after MSF has left for many years. Doctors Without Borders will leave but the facilities will still remain to improve the quality of care to patients. And all these things are for free. They will provide services to patients who will be coming here and the services will be for free as long as Doctors Without Borders are in this hospital,” Mwatia told reporters in Mamfe.
MSF’s donations to Mamfe came just six days after it made similar gestures to the Kumba District Hospital last Thursday. These donations, according to MSF’s Southwest regional Emergency Coordinator, Zakaria Mwatai, fulfill the NGO’s commitment to provide healthcare for vulnerable people and conflict-affected areas.
*MSF is a friend indeed*
Patients, hospital authorities, and other health personnel benefiting from the free but upgraded healthcare Doctors Without Borders provides have noted that the NGO is “a friend in deed.”
“Thank you Doctors Without Borders for being here. Your actions corroborate the saying ‘a friend in need is a friend in deed’,” Mamfe Hospital Director, Dr Nforsong said, as he hailed the MSF team “for a good job”.
He remarked that the NGO has brought positive changes to healthcare provision to his hospital, just like in other hospitals across the South West region.
Promising the Mamfe DH will strive to uphold MSF’s legacy, Dr Nforsong said “the presence of Doctors Without Borders in the hospital has injected more life to the facility.”
“The staff strength has doubled thanks to recruitment of medical, paramedical and support staff by this partner. The population can now enjoy the comfort of free ambulance service in case of emergency,” he said.
The Director’s words matched those of Kumba City Mayor, Gregory Mewanu, after he received MSF’s stunning donations to the Kumba District Hospital last Thursday.
“I am overwhelmed with joy following an immeasurable, I will say, level of generosity which is so huge that it can bring one to doubting. Today in the morning I thought how people could be so good hearted,” Mewanu told journalists.
Mamfe’s 1st Deputy Mayor, Benson Agbor said, with its 24/7 ambulance service, MSF “are known to be a blessing to the health structures lacking in equipment, trained personnel and drugs”.
The presence of Doctors Without Borders in our division has not only added to the welfare of our population, but also given the hospital and other health facilities workers a new lease of life. The employment of doctors, nurses, the installation of new equipment, the improvement on the different services in the hospital, have also added to the knowledge economy that now characterizes the development of the countries of the world and, in fact, we have not been left out…” he noted.
4.4 billion francs budgeted for South West in 2021
With already 95 health workers in Mamfe, and 70 in Kumba providing free, quality healthcare to people, MSF says it intends to expand services and reach more people in Cameroon’s South West Region.
The NGO has been active in Cameroon’s crisis-hit English-speaking regions since 2018 but fell out with authorities in the North West region in December 2020, when its activities in the region were suspended.
Doctors Without Borders have diverted resources to the South West region where they budgeted FCFA 3.6 billion for the region in 2020 and 4.4 billion in 2021, according to Zakaria Mwatai.
The Coordinator said they are spending FCFA 1.6 billion for the Mamfe District alone in 2021.
In Kumba last week, MSF installed a 165KVA generator at the district hospital, alongside rehabilitating water supply; providing wash and waste segregation material, and cleaning material at the hospital.
Three months to the end of 2021, Doctors Without Borders has done 75,000 medical consultations and 455 surgical interventions across the South West region on a cost-free basis.
The NGO employs 205 people in the region on contract, plus scores of health workers it supports across hospitals to care for patients under its care.
“Mamfe has 52 community health workers trained by Doctors Without Borders and equipped with medications to treat mild illnesses such as malaria, diarrhea and other, meanwhile Kumba has 97 community health workers carrying out the same function,” MSF’s South West Coordinator said.
Apart from insecurity and frequent lockdowns in many parts of the region, Mwatia said MSF’s challenge is to get their supplies cleared from the Kribi port where they are pending clearance.