1. May 2017/Posted by: SandroWicki
Dear future volunteers,
You make a voluntary commitment with “We Care Cameroon” to come on mission to the CMCS of Bafoussam, in order to offer quality care and to contribute to the training of local staff. Thank you !
For the good functioning of the missions, a small group of volunteers is already working upstream of the missions in order to succeed to compose teams of complete and homogeneous professionals. These teams are small, which allows everyone to have autonomy and responsibilities. It is possible that you are the only representative of your discipline and therefore a disengagement on your part would have consequences on the whole balance of the mission. In case of force majeure preventing you from respecting your commitment, it is essential to inform Christiane Lippeck, responsible for the composition of the teams, at the latest 6 months in advance.
In order to optimize the smooth running of the teams, we count on your professionalism and ask you to participate in the “Mission-Meeting” organized before and after the missions. These meetings are a unique opportunity to prepare your trip (organizational aspects), book airline tickets, carry out interdisciplinary transmissions and discuss objectives to be pursued on site.
In addition, we remind you that because of the limited financial resources of our association, you are asked, like all participants, to cover the cost of travel (air tickets, visa, accommodation: a total of 1000. – 1500.- CHF).
We thank you very much for your commitment and we look forward to welcoming you to our association.
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact one of the members of the committee.
Pascal Talla, President: + 41 76 501 63 49 / + 41 79 559 49 45
Christiane Lippeck, missions coordinator: + 41 78 677 62 64
If you would like to join one of the next missions in Cameroon, please contact directly the president of the association, Pascal Talla or the coordinator of mission, Christiane Lippeck.
To go on a mission, you must become a member of the ASPSC (CHF 50 / year), see online form: www.wecarecameroon.com
The association is particularly looking for doctors-anesthetists, nurse-anesthetists, instrumentalists, nurses and physiotherapists. As the second building of the hospital is under construction, skills in this area are also welcome.
The main project initiated by Pascal and Pélagie Talla and supported by the ASPSC is the construction and launch of the medical activity of the CMCS (Specialized Medical and Surgical Center) in Bafoussam in western Cameroon. The main building has been operational since 2014 and has been equipped with donations of medical equipment by Swiss public hospitals and private structures. Thanks to an operating room, a modern technical platform and a capacity of 25 hospital beds, the CMCS is able to offer endoscopic surgery procedures in conditions that meet Western standards. This is an unprecedented step forward in health care in western Cameroon. In addition, the digital radiology system will soon be functional. In the near future, the second building of the hospital will be completed and will, among other things, increase the capacity to 50 beds, open the digestive endoscopy unit, maternity and new rooms ‘delivery.
General information, tasks to be performed
Your tasks are determined primarily by your professional skills, personal abilities and interests.
It is important to realize that the working conditions on site are very different from those we know in Europe. For this reason, volunteers must be able to demonstrate good adaptability, flexibility and be autonomous in their area of expertise.
Information evenings – MIMI (mission meeting)
Between each mission, a meeting is organized in order to make a debriefing of the past mission and to allow a moment of exchange with the future volunteers. Anyone wishing to participate can contact Pascal Talla, President of ASPSC who organizes these meetings at his home in Gampelen.
This MIMI is a part of the mission.
We ask to all the participants of the next mission to come to the MIMI provided with the international vaccination certificate for the yellow fever (compulsory for the visa application), various documents for the visa and an empty luggage. The latter will be used to transport medical equipment.
Currently, medical-care teams leave three times a year for missions of 2 to 3 weeks.
Saturday, 22.09.2018 – Saturday, 13.10.2018
MIMI: Saturday 24.11.2018
Saturday, 09.03.2019 – Saturday, 23.03.2019 (gynécologie)
Saturday, 23.03.2019 – Saturday, 06.04.2019 (chirurgie)
MIMI: Saturday 12.01.2019
Saturday 01.06.2019 – Saturday 21.06.2019
MIMI: Saturday 06.07.2019
Saturday 21.09.2019 – Saturday 12.10.2019
MIMI: Sunday 10.11.2019
Saturday 29.02.2020 – Saturday 14.03.2020
MIMI: Saturday 28.03.2020
Saturday 13.06.2020 – Saturday 27.06.2020
MIMI: Saturday 11.07.2020
Saturday 19.09.2020 – Saturday 10.10.2020
MIMI: Saturday 24.10.2020
The «established» Disciplines are performed by local Team Members, who we aim to educate regularly by European Doctors.
Hospital Logistics / Equipment Status
With our Hospital we reach 2 Mio People, the City of Bafoussam has already 400’000 residents. Our primary objective is to provide medical care for all levels of the population. Currently we have 25 beds, and in total 65 are planned. We have a laboratory, an X-ray, ultrasounds and a rather well staffed and equipped operating room (OR). (Two further rooms, planned to become future Operating Rooms, are currently used as storage rooms until the second hospital building will be completed). We have a fully functioning and equipped laparoscopy tower (two more are currently being shipped). We also have a gastroscope and a colonoscope with their respective accessories and consumables as well as a fully equipped delivery room including an incubator.
Depending on your specialization, your duties will vary greatly. However please remember that our facilities are still under construction everywhere you go. Therefore your duties may well expand to include tasks that you may not yet imagine: In fact we expect you to help regardless of the task!
As long as we are still in the build-up phase, also medical specialists need to help with various ‘auxiliary’ duties – such as acquisition and organisation of materials etc… As a matter of principle, own individual initiative is the key to common success, there is nothing like a readily defined master plan to be followed. Please just co-ordinate your tasks and days with your supervisor. Cameroonian people work at least six days a week. Over all the typical volunteer coming to Cameroon is highly motivated and keen to actively promote the project – and this is what we count on.
Typically during mission stages a much higher than average number of patients will be present in the hospital, and a large number of post-surgery patients may need more care than the local team is used to and capable of handling. Not all of our local team members are used to European standards of patient survey, wound care, nutrition systematics, and impeded mobilisation. We therefore recommend to coordinate medical tasks closely with the mission supervisor and the local team to see which tasks can actually be mastered, where instruction / training may be required and also whether a break might be appropriate – in Cameroon, normally only Sundays are considered non-working days. However if well-coordinated with the team in due time there will be no problem to take a day off for an excursion, etc..
Once per year we are offering an Information Evening where we brief members, volunteers, benefactors, sponsors and anyone interested about our work, answer questions, show pictures, and provide in depth updates about our missions. The next Information Evening will be held in June 2018 in Le Landeron colse to Neuchatel. (link to Flyer is following soon)
We go for missions of 2-4 weeks in total. During the first few days a relatively small group will prepare the operation theatre and the material. During the main mission, we have the most intense phase with several gynaecological and surgical operations per day. For the last few days a smaller team remains in place to maintain the follow-up for our in-hospital patients before the local team gets back in charge till the next mission (general practitioner and a team of nurses). You can choose your time on-site in accordance with your availability and your professional education / experience. Due to the long travelling time we recommend a minimum-stay of two weeks.
Obviously it would be ideal to know as early in advance as possible who would like to join our team and when, but the official deadline is 3 month in advance of departure. From that moment on, we organise flights and visa. For the Visa, please bring your filled-in application form including fee and passport as well as all requested papers to your pre-mission meeting (see also chapter “visa”).
To learn about actually available / sought positions, please contact Pascal Talla or Christiane Lippeck directly.
For all volunteers a membership of the ASPSC is mandatory (button on contact-form).
Costs are CHF 600 to 1300 depending on the season. Flights during holidays and the Christmas / New Year season are the most expensive. If you book your flight through us you will receive a certificate for the donation in the high of the cost for de ticket.
Coordinated Transport of Materials
Preferably we fly together with Brussels Airlines to Yaoundé or Douala. This gives us the advantage of both travelling as a team and organizing the transfer from the airport to the CMCS much easier. This airline also has a baggage allowance of 2x23kg which gives us space to use one suitcase for personal belongings and the second suitcase for urgently needed materials!
We therefore appreciate, if you could put your “second” suitcases at our disposition for this purpose. They need to be left in Gampelen with the Mission Supervisor in due time for him to pack them up with materials for the hospital – please coordinate this with Pascal or Pélagie Talla.
Local Expenses in Bafoussam
Once we have arrived in Bafoussam you don’t really need to spend much money. The Mission Supervisor pays for the transfer, and local food will be provided by the team throughout the stage. If required, the local team will assist with money exchange.
For food and lodging, a contribution of EUR 50 per week will be collected.
If you are not familiar with Cameroonian food or would like some in-between snacks etc., feel free to bring along some foods from home. Things like Chocolate, Chips, Spaghetti etc. are difficult to get locally.
Expenses for excursions, visits to restaurants, bars etc. are not covered by the collected contribution. Recommendations and transportation can usually be organised if coordinated with the local team in due time.
Mission team members stay in rented apartments in the vicinity of the hospital. There are single and double beds, partially equipped with mosquito nets. Four members typically share a common bathroom. We recommend to take along an additional pair of flip-flops or sandals for the flat, a hiking headlamp, a mosquito net, a sleeping bag, a bowl to store boiled water and to flush your mouth after brushing your teeth. Beware the red soil and its incredible staining properties in bright colour clothing and shoes! Also bring an umbrella or other means of rain protection and a pair of rubber boots during the rainy season.
Includes meat (poultry und beef), fish, potatoes, rice, manioc, corn, plantains, tomatoes, leafy vegetables similar to spinach, peanuts, pineapple, mango, papaya, avocados, and lots of piri piri (a kind of chili-paste) are firm elements of Cameroonian menus.
Further there is „Pof-Pof“, “Carmel“ (peanuts with sugar icing) und boiled peanuts – all quite tasty!
Packing suggestions (23kg)
Besides the usual personal belongings there is a few sings that are particularly useful in 3rd world countries
– Sleeping bag / Inlay. Our beds are 90cm with pillows and a soft woolen blanket
– Moskito-Net, Moskitospray, long light colthing for the evening, Malariaprophylaxis
– Nails and a washing line (to suspend toilet bag, towel…)
– clothing for min 1 week – you can doo your laundry on site, but only by hand. If you don’t like curd soap, ou should bring your own detergent.
– Cup of metal or Plastic (to brush your teeth or to have a warm shower: you boil water and ad cold shower-water in a bucket: in Indonesia this is called „Mandi“)
– front-torch: power breakdowns are frequent at its useful to have free hands
– min 3 pairs of shoes, also a closed pair. At hospital, at home and one for the way from the sleeping place to the hospital, the best ones are washable and fast drying. Be careful with light colors: red earth stains.
– Umbrellas are almost more useful than jackets, the best is both. Though even in rainy season its normally only raining at night.
– french medical books are very welcome for our local medical team.
– Snacks s.a.
– who needs room in his suitcase after buying wooden carvings or other souvenirs will make some locals very happy giving out the clothes you dont need anymore.
– even if we never had any incidence: „as few valuables as possible is always a good approach. Most of the rooms have a key.
– Working clothes for nurses are on site, Doctors should bring their own coat.
Visa Costs are CHF 141. Prior to Visa application, our Supervisor will provide you with a formal Invitation Letter titled ‘Medical Humanitarian Mission’. With this letter, no one at the airport or of the Police, Customs etc. is allowed to stop or “control” you unjustified or interfere with our mission / our work wherever in Cameroon. If this happens anyway and you bring the case forward to the person’s superior, there will be negative consequences for him or her. If an event like that would happen, please contact the mission supervisor immediately!
Please find information and the visa application documents under one of the following links:
Standard: Form Consulat Geneva (French) http://www.consulat-cameroun.ch/images/stories/formulaire_visa.pdf
Self-organised Visa: Form Embassy Bern (English): http://www.ambacamberne.ch/dmdocuments/visa-formulaire-en.pdf
Further information regarding visa (Geneva): http://www.consulat-cameroun.ch/images/stories/conditions.pdf
Further information regarding visa (Bern): http://www.ambacamberne.ch/documentsVisa.html
Vaccines, Malaria, Climate
Yellow fever vaccine: Absolutely essential – otherwise your immigration will be denied! The WHO has abandoned requesting re-vaccination every 10 years and now only recommends one vaccination in a lifetime. The vaccination document will be checked at the border even before passport-control.
Further recommended vaccines: We recommend vaccines for Meningitis, MMR, DiTePe and Polio and the other usual vaccinations in accordance with the Swiss standard vaccination plan. Rabies is a widespread risk in Cameroon, the vaccination is also recommended. However since there might be individual issues regarding the personal compatibility of the vaccine, the decision to take this vaccination is left to each individual team member.
Malaria prophylaxis is recommended throughout the year, it is particularly important during the rainy season.
Information about the climate can be found under https://weather-and-climate.com/average-monthly-Rainfall-Temperature-Sunshine,bafoussam-cm,Cameroon.
Cameroon is politically stable. If you wish to travel through the country prior or after your mission feel free to do so – see below under “Travelling within Cameroon”.
Nevertheless you are well-advised to follow the basic rules that apply anywhere while travelling through third world countries. Please do not wear expensive jewellery, use decent clothing, never roam alone and do not stay outside after dawn. The Cameroonian people are very friendly and will warn you of any risk or danger rather than being one themselves!
It goes without saying that no organisation of a humanitarian mission of this kind can accept any responsibility or liability for potential accidents, theft, or incidents. Until now, none of our team members has fallen victim to any of those events during a mission in Cameroon.
All patients we are performing surgery on are tested for HIV, HBV and HCV. However these tests do not provide a 100% guarantee for protection, due to the known incubation times. The usual precautions and vaccinations for medical professionals should be considered mandatory. Further it is advised to bring your own emergency PEP-prophylaxis. In some of the missions this will be already organised by the Team leader.
For your project related professional activities, your professional liability insurance is covered by our organisation. In case of a working accident or private accident Swiss employees are covered though their employer’s insurance (if they work at least 8 hours per week). Please note: In case of unpaid vacation, different rules do apply. Please check with your health insurer whether you may need additional coverage.
The official language in the Bafoussam area is a very basic French. The local pronunciation may be a little difficult to get used to but it is manageable. English may be used at the Airport, the next city from Bafoussam where English is spoken is Bamenda, two hours away by car.
Some patients only speak the language of their tribe. Mostly however these patients are accompanied by a translator who speaks French.
Travelling within Cameroon
If you are interested to explore Cameroon prior to or after your mission stage, please feel free to do so. Cameroon has a lot to offer, e.g.,
- Mount Cameroon, several waterfalls in the area
- Limbe: lovely little town next to the sea, volcanic black sandy beach
- Kribi: nice beach, the world’s biggest waterfall directly into the sea
- several National Parks with large animals and safari opportunities
The North (from Garoua onwards) should currently be avoided. The “Extrème Nord” Province is frequently invaded by the Boko Haram (mainly resident in the Northern part of Nigeria). The area is more than 1000 km away from Bafoussam – 2 to 3 days of travel in Cameroon by long distance bus. Further please see the remarks above under “Safety”.
Last but not least it should be noted that all team members enjoy particular appreciation, attention and protection by the local people. As an example, a colleague who had accidentally lost her mobile phone while attending a festivity during the September 2016 stage has got it back a week later – a patient came back to the hospital and handed it over to her.