The results of our Burkitt lymphoma treatment programme under the clinical direction of Prof Peter Hesseling and supported by BTMAT are acknowledged as the best recorded in small resource limited hospitals in subSaharan Africa.
We are justifiably proud of the results of our hospital chemotherapy but of equal importance is advocacy for the programme in the community and the education of ordinary people regarding the nature and treatment of childhood cancer.
There is little or no concept of “CANCER” in rural Cameroon. Patients of children with Burkitt’s lymphoma will first consult a village practitioner who is most likely to give the diagnosis of “witchcraft”. The parents thus understand that this is not a problem that falls within the expertise of “western” hospital doctors. The most effective way of countering this ignorance is through the advocacy of parents whose children have been treated at one of the 3 CBCHB hospitals. These parents know the signs of cancer and are able to tell “new” parents where to find help.
Dr Francine Kouya, Prof Peter Hesseling and I were instrumental in the establishment of the North-west Cameroon Parents Organisation in May, 2011. The organisation has been registered with Cameroonian government authorities by Dr Francine. The officers and members meet at Mbingo Baptist Hospital. Smaller local parents groups have been formed in the villages and should become self-financing in due course. One at Ntaba village has already planned and instigated a pig rearing project. Monies raised will pay the fares of poor parents and their child to hospital and possibly supplement food costs for parents whilst the child undergoes treatment.
We are changing things, slowly!
Dr Paul Wharin