*My life, My Story and My Medical Practice *
I grew up in community called Fonfuka in the Bum sub-division of the North West Region of Cameroon. Throughout my childhood, I could not understand why we never had a medical doctor. In fact, the stories of the last doctor who ever served in my community from my grandma dated back to so many years by that time.
On Friday the 24th of January 1992, my mother entered into labor as her water broke. Five hours into labor the first twin bounced out strong and resilient. Everyone impatiently waited for my arrival but I never came forth as expected. I was retained for 3 hours. Under normal circumstances, the subsequent route of delivery should have been by a C-section, but the question is...who would have performed it in a health centre with no electricity and with only one nursing aid attendant? My grandma made her prayers to the Lord beckoning on Him to save the life of her daughter and her unborn baby. After three hours, I majestically presented one of my legs and was immediately pulled out by the midwife .
Throughout primary school and the first three years in secondary school, I was troubled as to why an entire community of more than 35.000 people will lack a medic. As soon as I got into form 4, I knew I wanted to become a Doctor. During my seven years in med school, I spent my summer breaks volunteering for health campaigns that took me to many other hard to reach communities. There, I quickly realized that the disturbing lack of healthcare providers was the reality of my country.
How do I limit myself in a hospital setting when I know that there are millions of patients out there who need my services but can never afford this for varied reasons. How can I sit back conformably within the four walls of my office when I know that the doctor-patient ratio in my country is at 1:25000? How can I be at ease when I work in a zone that has been hit hard by a humanitarian crisis for the past three years leading to the displacement of more than 60% of healthcare providers and the shutting down of more than 50% of health facilities?
How do I bear the sight of hundreds of teenagers who constantly present with unwanted pregnancies or with complications from unsafe abortions performed by charlatans? What happens to the people living with HIV who no longer have access to their medications? What about the people with diabetes and hypertension who have been left to their fate as the hospital doors are shot? What is the future of our children who can no longer have access to routine vaccines? What about the so many women who now deliver in the bushes?
These and many more have caused me to ask myself the question why chose to do medicine in the first place. What can I do now? Do I just run away and pretend as if nothing is going on? How can I when I’m persuaded that the intensity of the pain of my frustration is an indication of an underlying opportunity for effective service ?These and many more are the questions that plague my mind on a daily basis. I have started some health outreach activities at the level of the community targeting especially the youth, but my efforts seem like an attempt to use a glass of water to save a mansion that has been ravaged by fire. Here am I, having to deal with this reality on a daily basis. I hope I will not lose my mind! While the entire world is celebrating World Health Day, I am still perplexed as to the future of the healthcare system in my community and country.
Happy World Health Day to all those of this noble profession. You are the true heroes! Today, I salute the bravery of the healthcare providers who carry out their practice these days at the very risk of their own lives within these regions that are plagued by war