A team from Leeds Children’s Hospital recently embarked on a twinning visit to the Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services (CBCHS) childhood cancer programme. The team was made up of Sister Rachel Hollis, Honorary Nurse Adviser in children’s cancer care, Doctor Jessica Morgan, and Sister Kate Barnfield, Senior Sister on the children’s cancer ward in Leeds. They were accompanied by Piera Freccero, Director of Programmes for World Child Cancer and Glen Mbah, World Child Cancer’s Programme Manager for Cameroon.
First on the agenda was a visit to Chantal Biya Foundation in Yaoundé, specifically the paediatric oncology unit managed by Dr Angele Pondy. The team discussed treatment processes for Laukaemia, with Dr Morgan joining Dr Pondy on a ward round to attend to some of the patients on the ward with particularly challenging issues.
When moving onto Banso Baptist Hospital the team met Fortune, a teenage girl who required support in managing her symptoms when receiving palliative care. The team shared knowledge on how to best manage Fortune's issues whilst also joining Nurse Practitioner Vera in attending to new patients on the ward.
The team later visited Mbingo Bastist Hospital where they met Dr Francine Kouya, World Child Cancer’s programme lead for Cameroon, as Sister Rachel comments;
“We visited the parents’ home, and were delighted to see how well used it is. We spoke to some mothers who told us what an enormous difference it made to their family during a child’s treatment. We also met Happiness, the Nutritionist at Mbingo, as she gave cooking lessons for parents in the home to help them to provide nutritious meals for their children.
“During our time at Mbingo we held a nurse training workshop which was well evaluated by participants, most of whom were nurses from Cameroon’s three Baptist hospitals with local team members also teaching at the workshop sessions.
“Sister Kate spent some time with Gracious, the new teacher on the ward, to discuss how to incorporate play and distraction into the care of children. We hope there is potential of a twinning partnership with the teaching school at Leeds Children's Hospital and that in Cameroon."
The team ended their trip by visiting Mutengene Baptist Hospital and St Mary’s Mount Hospital in Buea, where Doctor John Chishugi is developing a children’s cancer treatment programme.
With support from volunteers such as those from Leeds Children's Hospital, we can upskill healthcare professionals in the countries where we work to ultimately give more children a faster route to better treatment.