Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Henry in his workshop
Bo-Paul and Rufina
In every organization, town and group of people there is a Bo-Paul.  A person always with a smile on his face and a positive attitude who is willing to do anything asked of him at any time, any where.  At St Martin de Porres Hospital that person is Bo-Paul.  Bo is the Kom word for Father.  Henry has only one child, Paul, so he is Bo-Paul.

Henry is 59 years old and was born and raised in Njinikom.  He began working at the hospital in 1977 as a yard man.  He has worked in the laundry, a cleaner in the wards, plumber, water supply, maintenance and the last 30 years as the head driver.  Henry knows this hospital inside and out and everyone relies on Henry when something needs a fix.  Never a grumble will come from Bo-Paul, only that smile and an increased hustle to his gait.

Henry married Rufina, also a Njinikom girl, in 1980.  Their son Paul teaches in one of the local schools.

Bo-Paul officially retired from the hospital 15 months ago but has not missed a day of work since then, a truly dedicated worker.

He has left Cameroon only when traveling to Northern Cameroon and the road briefly cuts into Nigeria.

He laughed when I asked him what his hobby was.  Working on his farm is his hobby where he raises plantains, bananas and coffee.

His dream is to buy a car and open his own taxi service.  Idle is never a word that will be associated with Bo-Paul.

Monday, January 23, 2012


During the dry season we experience the Harmattan Winds.  They originate in the Sahara Dessert picking up dust and then depositing  it throughout Sub-Saharan West Africa.  As a result of the dryness and irritation to the respiratory tract the rate of Respiratory infections rise.  Currently 80% of the patients in the medical wards have pneumonia.  Unfortunately pneumonia, coupled with malnutrition and other diseases like HIV, can be a real killer.  Several patients have died the last 2 weeks with pneumonia.  We at least have fewer cases of Malaria with the dry weather.
Harmattan Haze 
Hazy view of Njinikom from Mount Boyo

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


When I started this blog 18 months ago I thought about writing periodically about the people I work with here.  The blog turned into a view of my world through the different patients I see.  I hope you enjoy hearing their stories even though they are heartbreaking at times.  During one of my waking moments last night I thought about resurrecting the idea to include stories about the staff here.  I realized I am not a good reporter as I interviewed my nurse today but here it goes.
Germar, as many of you know is my Nurse.  She works with me doing rounds and then acts as my interpreter during the remainder of the day in OPD.  She also reminds me of the various things and patients I need to check on through the day.  She keeps me on task.
Germar is 31 years old and is single.  She was born and raised in Kumba in the South West Province.  Her Family is originally from Bafut near Bamenda so she is from the Bafut tribe and therefore does not speak, the local Kom tribe dialect.  She does speak excellent English and Pigeon and is able to communicate fairly well with the French speaking patients.  After passing her A level exams (our high school equivalent), she completed a 3 year nursing program in Bamenda and is a certified State Registered Nurse.  She has been working at St Martin de Porres Hospital for 3 years.  She is actively involved in the Hospital community singing with the choir and involved with most of the special events through the year.  She is also secretary of the HIV Therapeutic Committee which meets weekly to decide on all treatment decisions of our 1000 plus HIV patients.
Her hobbies include reading, watching movies and playing computer games.  She has never been outside of Cameroon.  She has been to the ocean but only got her feet wet as she does not swim.
Her dream is to some day to become a Public Health Nurse and be involved in patient counseling.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Fell Through the Cracks

Ignatius is an 8 year old boy who was seen last month with chronic diarrhea and cough.  He was very wasted and was found to have HIV.  He got the HIV from his mother during the pregnancy.  Routine HIV screening was not done on all pregnant women at that time.  His mother not only knew she had HIV but she has been on treatment for several years.  Despite being told the need to have her children tested she never got it done.

A Sick Ignatius
Despite all the effort put into education about HIV all too often we see a case like Ignatius where his HIV could have been prevented had his mother been tested during the pregnancy and received proper treatment.  It is hard to understand how his mother could come to the Hospital monthly for her own medication yet never get Ignatius tested as he has obviously been sick and doing poorly for some time.  It tells us we must try to improve the education about HIV and the need for testing.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Sickle Cell

Lillian is a 10 year old girl who has been in the hospital the last week.  She has Sickle Cell Anemia which causes her red blood cells to become “sickle shaped”.  This causes the affected cells to be removed from her circulation by the spleen resulting in anemia.  Additionally these abnormal shaped cells can plug small vessels in various locations throughout the body.  This results in significant pain.  It also increases her risk for infections.  Lillian was suffering from both Malaria and abdominal pain. 
Lillian Feeling Better


We were able to get both of these problems under control and she was able to make it home for the new year.