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Cameroonian-Americans Work to Improve Health Care Back Home

A group of Cameroonian professionals has sent hundreds of thousands of dollars of medical equipment to their home district. The equipment will benefit Presbyterian Hospital in the village of Acha-Tugi in Momo Division in the Northwest province. The hospital serves 10 villages with about 200,000 people. It has not received new supplies in over 30 years.

The equipment includes operating tables, cardiac monitors, stethoscopes, wheel chairs, a mobile x-ray machine, an ambulance, and incubators for early-born infants, and computers for managing patient records.

The coordinator of the project is Tata Thaddeus Agwo, a senior engineer at Beth Israel, in Boston, Massachusetts.

He explained why he and other colleagues in the US decided to send the material: ”The passing away of my mother in 2005 exposed some of the issues,” he said. “She died from complications of dehydration, and after her burial I went around [and] talked to the people and the hospital. [Afterwards], I discovered that there were more problems in the region. Acha-Tugi was built in 1965 and the equipment dates back to that year, so most of them are no longer working. [Because of that], women are dying, children are dying…. It is really a problem in that region…. That is [why] we got this group together and we said we have to do something. “

The Acha-Tugi hospital complex has 54 buildings that include wards for pregnant women, children’s surgery, tuberculosis and eye problems. There are also laboratories,radiological facilities and outpatient care facilities.

In 1964, when the missionaries managed the hospital, there were about 200,000 patients per year.

Today the hospital is lagging. In addition to new equipment, the hospital needs medicine and trained staff.

Tata Thaddeus gave his views for solving the problem: “One of the strategies is to take health care nearer the people. If we, for instance, take the ambulance to a village, church, or market, we should be able to provide education, screening, and basic health care. So, preventive medicine is going to be one of the major things we are going to focus on.”

Fon Njokem is the traditional ruler of Mbemgwi. He was among those who witnessed the handing-over ceremony at Presbyterian hospital recently in Acha-Tugi village.
He said, "In fact, a population of about two thousand turned out in Acha-Tugi, defying the heavy rainfall. Made up of traditional rulers, children, [and] a congregational choir
with dance groups…. We indeed appreciated it and it was in fact a historic and
significant event.”

Fon Njokem says the area still could benefit from even more help – including the
repair of bad roads, and income-generating work for the population. He hopes the help provided by the medical project will help boost the morale of hospital workers and villagers who’ve grown tired of doing without adequate health care.