Interview with Chief Physician Armand

Can you sum up the past year in one sentence?

Gradual growth.

How has the pandemic affected the work at the Medical Center?

People have begun to turn away from medical facilities. On the one hand because of fear of infection in hospital, but also because of scepticism about the drugs used, the vaccine or even the pandemic itself. All of these reasons have been compounded by the effects of the infodemic (misinformation circulating on social media) that we have witnessed in the country. The trust between the public and the health authorities was disturbed.

What did you learn during the pandemic?

The lessons we learned during the pandemic are innumerable.
However, it seems especially important to me that we learned a lot about community. For example, in our interviews, we learned that the population gets most of its health information from peers and social media. This led us to conclude that there must be a basis of trust between the facilitator and the community member in order to be heard. For this reason, we took a more community-focused approach in 2021. We created partnerships with community organizations and key individuals to build trust and better impact people’s health.

What has changed since the medical center opened?

We were able to create many new services (accompaniment during pregnancy and maternity, physiotherapy, nutritional advice, additional laboratory tests). These are now affordable for even the most vulnerable members of the community: in addition to the ordinary price list, there is now also a special price list with free consultations, some free services and an average discount of 30% on all laboratory tests and medicines sold. Last but not least, we hired more staff and expanded our hours to all seven days of the week.

What were your most important projects last year?

Last year, our biggest projects were the teen pregnancy prevention campaign and the hypertension screening and prevention campaign.
But we’ve also done a cervical cancer screening campaign, a nutrition workshop for overweight people, a regular physical activity program for women in the community, a hand hygiene education campaign in elementary schools, first aid training for students, and other projects.

How did KamerunGO! Influenced your work?

KamerunGO! plays an enormously important role in our work. It supports us both organisationally and financially in the implementation of our projects. From the beginning, she provided direction, and still provides input and ideas for the Medical Center.

What are the most important projects for 2022?

We have divided our projects into 3 main categories based on the goals of the Medical Center. Firstly, services are to be further expanded in order to meet the needs of the population even more effectively. The most important sub-areas are the dental department and the ophthalmology department.
Second, we want to continue to forge partnerships in the community. The network of locally important personalities will be brought to bear on two projects in particular: A second campaign to prevent teenage pregnancies and a prevention campaign on hygiene-related diseases in schools.
Thirdly, the offer of the special price list should also be extended to socially weaker persons from surrounding communities.

Jana Arnold

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