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A look back at a humanitarian mission in Cameroon

Marilyne, who retired in 2022, wanted to spend some time helping others. So she went on a humanitarian mission, via the Catholic Delegation for Cooperation, to Cameroon. From 11 January to 5 April 2024, she worked as a volunteer health executive at the Nicolas Barré Hospital, located in a poor district of Yaoundé and run by the Sisters of the Infant Jesus.

Accommodated by the congregation, 50 meters from the hospital, she shared her time with 9 sisters, 4 of whom work at the Nicolas Barré school, also in Yaoundé. She says: "It was a real pleasure to chat and celebrate with them! The hospital also gave me an extraordinary welcome, with speeches, bouquets of flowers and songs.

Areas for improvement

On the spot, she quickly identified 4 areas of work: the alignment of medical and paramedical time, student supervision, identity monitoring and the mapping of risks related to medicines and care. This was an opportunity to appreciate the difficulties caused by the local environment: "I was very quickly confronted with the situation of patients who could not pay for their care and who were sometimes transferred in an emergency situation, at the last minute. An example of a problem we're less familiar with in France: if a scheduled operation requires a transfusion, the patient himself has to find 2 donors beforehand, if there are no bags corresponding to his or her blood group in the hospital bank... In addition, the hospital does not receive any state aid because it is private. So it has to bear all the costs, particularly electricity, which is very high. »

Great potential

Despite these factors, she says she is impressed by the Nicolas Barré hospital, "a hospital with great potential, particularly with the creation of an intensive care unit, a cashier's office and a pharmacy in the new building". Despite the constraints, the teams "offer quality care to patients with a human touch. They are proactive, embracing change to improve the quality and safety of care. It was an excellent assignment for me," concludes Marilyne. Even if it was short-lived, I have the feeling that it was a job well done. I can't wait for the hospital director to call me back so that I can complete the opening of the intensive care unit, a project I've already visited. This return to the site will also allow me to see how the organizational changes that have been initiated are being implemented. »


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