Fleeing health workers in the Northwest Region urged to brave the odds of the current socio-political upheavals and deliver quality healthcare services
Following a call from the Minister of Public Health for health personnel in the region to continue their duties despite the trying times, district medical officers and directors have met to adopt strategies on health care service delivery during the ongoing crisis in the Northwest Region. The meeting held at the Northwest Regional Fund for Health Promotion under the supervision of the Regional Delegate for Public Health, Dr. Kingsley Che Soh.
In his opening remarks, he analyzed the damage that the health family has incurred during this crisis, ranging from attacks, killings and brutality on health personnel, destruction of health facilities which has caused many nurses and doctors to flee from their duty post, amidst others. To Dr. Kingsley, the meeting was a moment to brainstorm and see how they could brave the odds and meet the demands of the population at this moment when their services are highly needed.
During the presentation of reports from health districts, beginning from Batibo, Njikwa, Fundong, Benakuma, Mbengwi, Oku, the worries were same, military threats, inaccessibility for distribution of drugs to health units. This scares health personnel from their duty posts and has caused many health districts to be shut down.
According to the Administrator of the NWRFHP, Dr. Fondoh Richard Barika, the unit had made demands for drugs which could last health districts from for July to mid-September but the distribution was compromised when they wanted to supply Wum. There was no means to access the area and for other areas, they managed to strategize on means of collecting the drugs. For anti-retroviral drugs, the unit had written to the RTG for anti-retroviral to be supplied for 6months but delay in the response made it pretty difficult for the drugs to be supplied. It should be noted that with the difficulties in distributing the drugs and the fact that most people have fled and do not consume the drugs in most of the pharmacies, medication worth 62 million FCFA has been lost because some got destroyed and others got expired.
Dr Tayong Gladys, the NW Regional Coordinator for the National AIDS Control Committee, intimates that about 1500 patients who are on anti-retroviral therapy cannot be accounted for since most have been displaced. As at July 2018, 36,000 patients were actually receiving the treatment across the region instead of an estimated 37,500.
Representing the Director of the Bamenda Regional Hospital, the General Supervisor, Dr. Mrs Njini Rose, declared that the Bamenda Regional Hospital is not exempted from the trauma of the crisis. It ranges from social media threats to threats from NGOs who come to force hospital authorities to sign MOUs, to name but these. She however voiced that the hospital has taken some measures to brace up to cope with the trying times. On days that the town seems dead workers are picked from their homes, others have volunteered to live in the hospital while those living around the hospital come in to help due to the alarming rate of casualty.
The Regional Hospital Mortuary has registered 29 unidentified corpses and the hospital is working in collaboration with the City Council to get them buried. She appreciated the coming of Doctors Without Borders for the mass casualty plan ongoing in the Bamenda district involving three health districts: Mankon, Nkwen and St Mary Soledad. The Regional Hospital will serve as a referral hospital. Carmeu Terradillos from Doctors Without Borders, is leading a cream of experts who are in the Region and in the weeks ahead, will put at the disposal of the hospital an ambulance, surgeon, anesthetist, material, training of staff, logistic manager to help manage the equipment that the Doctors are bringing in. Doctors Without Borders will begin training health personnel at the regional hospital to know where to be, and what to do in times of mass casualty. Carmeu Terradillos says they may expand should the security concerns improve. There shall be a hotline available in case of any eventuality.
At the end of the meeting, some recommendations were arrived at and Dr Kingsley Che Soh, Regional Delegate for Public Health, expressed the wish to see the health facilities that have been shut down resume operations. He urged the District Medical Officers to work closely with the Directors of the hospitals to ensure that quality healthcare is delivered, especially in this time when the region is seriously hit by the crisis.
Pedmia Shatu Tita