To warn the people of the increasing dangers of COVID-19, Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières has sounded the alarm about rising complicated cases of the coronavirus disease.
Dr. Donatien Tshishimbi, Medical Coordinator of DWB in Cameroon’s South-West Region told Mimi Mefo Info on Friday that the population must more than ever before adhere to COVID-19 barrier measures in order to stifle the spread of the disease.
“We are receiving more and more complicated cases. This makes me to think that the message we used to pass related to COVID-19 is not well received. But we are really advising the population work on that line,” said DWB’s Dr. Tshishimbi on Friday after one of his routine visits to the Buea Regional Hospital Annex.
“The population should respect barrier measures and everything related to protection. When we are talking about preventive measures and no one is respecting them, it is worrisome. To cure is something far more expensive than prevention. If you want to be safe, it’s better to be in a preventive position. Let us avoid the worst situation from happening.”
Since last year, Doctors Without Borders have been supporting the Buea Regional Hospital and other facilities in the South-west Region to fight against COVID-19.
“We agreed to work together, to join our forces in order to better fight COVID-19,” said Dr. Tshishimbi. “We have set up a COVID-19 testing center at the Buea Regional Hospital where we centralize all those who are in need of COVID-19 tests. On top of that, we are supporting the COVID-19 treatment center for in-patients. Together, we also run a homebased program in which we follow those COVID-19 patients not in need of hospitalization,” he said.
At the COVID-19 treatment center (COVID-19 isolation center), Doctors Without Borders provide drugs, medical supplies and make sure that the staff involved in COVID-19 treatment have all they need to better take care of patients.
Although the partnership between Doctors Without Borders and the Buea Regional Hospital Annex is said to be excellent, Dr. Tshishimbi says they are grappling with some challenges.
Top among the challenges is the non-respect of COVID-19 barrier measures and limited bed space to hospitalize patients in need.
“We will keep emphasizing the message of protection and preventive measures. Also, we will keep treating patients who already have symptoms. For all those who are positive but without symptoms, they will be included in the homebased treatment program. We will keep taking care of them,” Dr. Tshishimbi assured.
“But the most important challenge I can highlight”, he furthered, “is about space.”
“We are having a capacity of 21 beds. So, we manage with that coz for every patient that is in need of hospitalization, we manage to receive those patients,” said DWB’s Medical Coordinator for Cameroon’s South-West Region. “And then if our capacity is actually full, we know how we can manage those kinds of cases. We can send the case to Douala based on the need of the patient. For example, if the patient needs more ICU management, in that case, we send the patient to Douala.
COVID-19 test remains free
Aside from building a COVID-19 testing center at the Buea Regional Hospital, Doctors Without Borders continues to support the activities of the COVID-19 treatment center – the isolation unit.
At the Isolation Unit, they carry out many activities including the donation of medical items for patients who need to be admitted and for those who have mild symptoms and do not need to be admitted. Doctors Without Borders provides them with house hold hygiene kits, Dr. Christie Linonge, Medical Coordinator Support of DWB in South-West emphasized.
“COVID-19 is a disease that also disturbs the population mentally. Some people feel stressed when they test positive. As such, we have mental health counsellors we have incentivized. They are here in the regional hospital providing mental health care to families and those affected by COVID-19.
“Usually, we have other activities in collaboration with the Buea Regional Hospital. COVID-19 activities are just one of the many activities we carry out here. We have a very good working relationship with the regional hospital. We also have other activities in places like Kumba, Mamfe, Muyuka and Eyumojock. We are supporting the vulnerable population. As you know, Doctors Without Borders is a medical organization that provides free healthcare to vulnerable populations,” Dr. Linonge said.
She added that: “We are informing everyone that COVID-19 is real. When you have it, you should not stay at home with it. When you’re feeling sick, just go to the hospital and get tested. The COVID-19 test is free in all public facilities. When you do your tests and turn out positive, you’ll be treated for free.
“Please continue to respect COVID-19 barrier measures. Continue to wear facemasks in all public places and limit crowds as much as possible. Also wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your eyes and nose.”
13% prevalence of COVID-19
Ncham Genesis Fointwen, Senior Laboratory Scientist at the COVID-19 Testing Unit at the Buea Regional Hospital told Mimi Mefo Info that between October 1 and October 15, 2021, they had carried out 523 COVID-19 tests with 69 positive cases.
This 13 percent prevalence, he says, shows that the population must take measures to respect COVID-19 barrier measures.
‘COVID-19 is not witchcraft’
Dr. Martin Mokake, Director of the Buea Regional Hospital Annex says COVID-19 is not witchcraft. As such, those who feel sick should report to the hospital and get tested.
He urged the population to respect COVID-19 barrier measures so as to stall the spread of the 3rd wave of the disease.
“Those tested positive for COVID-19 are treated free of charge,” he assured.