Trip Summary of Dr. Rebecca B

Trip Summary of Dr. Rebecca B

Trip summary of Dr. Rebecca B. To Cameroon towards advancement of the Mbingo Baptist Hospital Comprehensive Cancer Care project.

At the Mbingo Baptist Hospital Cameroon the majority of patients present with the usual tropical diseases but there is an increasing number of patients diagnosed with cancer and mostly at advanced stages, whereby surgery is no more an option but conservative therapies. At this hospital there is then the possibilty of obtaining chemotherapy as a conservative (unfortunately in most cases palliative) therapy. Radiotherapy as another conservative treatment option is not available at this hospital which makes it difficult for a satisfactory treatment of cancer patients. Thus evolved the idea of integrating a radiotherapy unit to optimize cancer care at Mbingo Baptist Hospital.

Three radiation oncologists and a doctor’s assistant made a 10 day trip to the Hospital in Cameroon. The aim was to meet with the medical oncologist, to explore the site, get information on current treatment possibilities, visit the existing radiotherapy units in the two towns Douala and Yaounde. Just to have an idea of the present situation to be able to analyse and make estimates of how the project could be carried on.

The program started on friday september 30th with visiting the radiotherapy department at the reference hospital in Douala. A department that exists since the 80’s. There is 2 Co60 machines of which one had a breakdown at the time we visited. It was of great importance to meet the colleagues and they appreciated the fact that almost a third of their patients were referred from the Mbingo Baptist Hospital.

Monday October 3rd meeting with the technical crew and financial Board to discuss about the building area, a draft of how a radiation oncology unit has to be ( at least the ones in Europe or US) was stated, the staffing was mentioned, the problem of maintenance etc. The importance of a reliable source of power was emphasized as a linac would not tolerated any kind of power breakdown these a very sensitive machines.
An account has to be opened for fundraising just for the project.
Letters of collaboration/support.
Dennis is in contact with the USAID
Radiation protection compliances – to meet with Mr. Samba Richard.
The cost of treatment should be about 10tsd fCFA per fraction.
Contact certain organisations etc for financial assistance : DAAD, german government, AORTIC, IAEA, ASTRO, etc
The total cost of the project should be ligned out by April 15 2017 for application of grants. Personal, equipment etc.
Project to be accomplished in 3 yrs.

Tuesday October 4th
Rounds with Dr. Kline and the residents at the women’s ward a total of 30 beds.
Thursday October 6
Presentation of the Radiotherapy Project in Mbingo baptist hospital at the chapel for the medical personal.
Meeting with the ExCo of CBC to present our intention to support the project of a radiation oncology department at Mbingo.

Friday October 7
Meeting with the Prime minister H.E. Philemon Yang organised by Prof. Njamsi a neurologist in Cameroon. The P.M. Was very interested in the Project and informed that there are lots of projects ongoing in the health sector.
Visit to the Radiation protection office to meet Mr. Samba Richard. He mentioned the National investment agency facilitates getting instruments and provides opportunities to get investors to assist – this was also used by the private investor. He explained that technicians operating machines such as orthovolt (X-ray) could be trained on site by the medical physicists and radiation oncologist as there is no training program in the country or in the African setting.
Meeting with Dr. Nana a medical physicist of Georgia Tec who relocated to Cameroon and has his own company where he trains engineers in Cameroon and works closely with Varian and Siemens.
Meeting with the dean of the faculty of medicine welcomed us and showed us to the Amphitheater where Arif, Linda and l gave a lecture to medical students an Staff concerning the radiation oncology project in Mbingo Baptist Hospital.

The concept is a great one. This journey was for us to have an overview of the realities on the field before taking further steps. To me the journey has been very educative. It is a long journey with perhaps lots of obstacles but with the goal kept in mind of providing accessible radiotherapy for the needy surely it will become a reality.
The areas to look at while the fundraising is ongoing are:
Training the staff to use these machines: nurses, RT, medical physicist, technician etc
Housing of patients and or relatives (perhaps new buildings etc private investors?)
Long term strategies
Collaboration via internet / Telemedicine with colleagues abroad

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