Many diseases can be easily avoided – if you know how. Our NGO Hope and Life Cameroun is trying to sensitize the population in Cameroon to precisely this.
Have you been suffering from dizziness, nausea or headaches for a long time? Maybe it’s insomnia and hot flashes, or maybe it’s the constant fatigue? Let’s go to the doctor and have a check-up. This can even be done without any symptoms at all – the annual gynaecological examination or the regular test for high blood pressure are common practice, especially if previous family illnesses are known. Health awareness in the western world is huge. Healthy diet, enough exercise, the right medication. For a long time, we have been surrounded by prevention campaigns to make sure we are doing everything possible for our health. And when the disease does come, there is a seamless health care system waiting for us.
The situation in Cameroon is a little different. The medical infrastructure is dilapidated. Many people, especially in rural areas, have virtually no access to health care. But often the request fails earlier. The knowledge about common diseases and their symptoms, if there are any, is small. Often the doctor is only consulted when there is a real need – for example in the case of high blood pressure. A treacherous, inconspicuous disease that shows virtually no symptoms. If it remains unnoticed, hypertension can lead to serious secondary diseases: Heart failure, kidney failure, cardiac arrhythmias or, in the worst case, a heart attack.
Hypertension campaign successfully implemented
It is therefore important to educate and encourage regular screening to detect the disease as early as possible. This was exactly the aim of the hypertension campaign of our NGO Hope and Life Cameroun. For five days, the intern Sarah, laboratory technician Alphonse and two volunteer students were on the road in Békoko to measure the blood pressure of the residents and, if necessary, to initiate further treatment. “The campaign was a great success,” Sarah said. First, the team received a two-day introduction to the topic in order to acquire the necessary basic knowledge. “After that, we had a tent set up for two days for people to visit. Finally, we were out and about in the neighbourhoods for three days to address people on the street.” In the end, 350 people were reached, which was much more than expected. “Some cases of high blood pressure were detected.” The patients were then advised on their diet or given medication straight away. “Of course, they should also get regular checkups now.”
Hypertension is by no means the only disease for which education is needed in Cameroon. Three more campaigns are already planned for the next few months – at the moment the physiotherapy campaign is running, as a table for therapy purposes has recently arrived at the health centre. “We offer free treatment to everyone. The physiotherapist is here twice a week and shows people how to do suitable exercises for their condition on their own.”
Next, the team wants to address the disease malaria: How can you reduce the risk of being bitten by a mosquito? What can be done to prevent mosquitoes from settling around the house? Finally, a campaign for the health of pregnant refugee women in the Anglophone crisis is already planned. Sarah herself also has her very own project planned starting in October. During two hours a week she shows school children different materials and techniques with which they can paint, draw or do handicrafts. “This project is very close to my heart as I do a lot of art myself.”