Like other Countries in Africa, Cameroon has as well been hit by the HIV pandemic, with about 12% hit in the North West region of the country. Though malaria is still the leading killer disease in the region, HIV/AIDS is as well very high. Current HIV figures in this area are indeed shocking.
The Boyo Division and Njinikom sub division in particular are no exceptions. A survey carried out 3 years ago by the Provincial Technical Group in collaboration with Secondary schools indicated that Boyo Division surprisingly has about 10% of HIV incidence rate. Several efforts aimed at achieving behavioral change that could reduce HIV/AIDS incidences in the Njinikom area has shown no great change as the youth still, are indulged in very risky practices that predispose them to HIV infection. Characterized by limited health infrastructure, accessibility to health institutions in the Njinikom area is still constrained by high level poverty. Only a small percent of the population actually attend hospital. Most people rely on traditional doctors for healing of all types of diseases. In Contrast there are over 200 traditional doctors in the Njinikom subdivision. Thus, involving traditional doctors in an HIV/AIDS Campaign was a plausible step towards reducing the incidence rate of the disease in this area. The objective of the seminar therefore; were to empower traditional doctors on risk mitigation of HIV, to enhance their knowledge on the various routes of HIV transmission, to sensitize doctors on the rising levels of HIV in their community and to bring on board those doctors who are not aware of the HIV practices.
50 participants from 17 villages were in attendance. Through participatory group discussion and role play, participants were sensitized on the following issues ; basic information on HIV/AIDS, incidence rate in the region, how HIV is transmitted, risky practices that predispose both doctors and their clients to HIV infection, how this can be prevented, testing and treatment, stigmatisation, referral to hospital, hygiene and Sanitation. Main discussions were held in the Kom and Pidgin English languages.
At the close of the seminar, participant expressed profound satisfaction of how enriching the training has been. Key take home were: One man, one blade, Go do your HIV test in Hospital, HIV is a disease like any other (to reduce stigmatization) and take out medicine from bottle for one person at a time. With the ever increasing incidences of the HIV/AIDS, It was concludes that other very risky groups (young tailors, hairdressers, out-of-school youth, Constituted women’s groups) still need such trainings as frequent training will obtain behavior change.
Cameroon has as well been hit by the HIV pandemic in a more serious manner. The North West Region of this country has for some time been leading on HIV incidence rate and has unfortunately been the hardest hit. In June this year, the government released a report in which the North West was still leading the rest of the nine other regions in this unfortunate situation. The Littoral and South West Regions came in second and third positions. The percentage rate for the North West still remains 12%. In 1995 Njinikom Sub Division had a population of 28.000 inhabitants. It is on this premise that it was granted a Local Government Council in 1996 because a place needed at least 25.000 inhabitants to be able to have a Council. But the last Cameroon Census results conducted in 2005 indicated that the population stands at 20.000. There are many faulty reasons for this results obtained all over the country; ie, many areas were not well counted during the census exercise.
Njinikom is located North East of Bamenda the regional headquarters of the North West, and separated from Bamenda by a 60 km tarred road (constructed by Germany between 1993 and 1997, 72 km from Bamenda to Fundong) It is one of the four Sub Divisions of Boyo Division; the others being, Fundong, Belo and Bum. It is hoped that this campaign could be taken to these other Sub Divisions in the near future.
About 65% of the people who attend hospitals here would have consulted a traditional doctor before going to hospital. Malaria is still the leading killer disease here. But it has the advantage that many people have different treatment ways to it. HIV/AIDS is as well very high. Tuberculoses in relative terms as well, affecting mostly the elderly people. Common illnesses for under 5 years old are rampant: Malaria, Diarrhea, Pneumonia and cough.
Current HIV figures in this area are indeed shocking. A survey carried out 3 years ago by the Provincial Technical Group (PTG) in collaboration with Secondary schools indicated that Boyo Division surprisingly has about 10% of HIV incidence rate. It further stated that for every 400 students tested, 10 were HIV positive. This alarmed health authorities because UNICEF Cameroon, together with Project Hope an HIV unit of Njinikom Hospital, had been giving Health and sex education to all secondary schools in Belo and Njinikom Sub Divisions. The UNICEF Program was call Youth and Adolescent Participatory Education Program. Yet there has been no relative behaviour change which was the ultimate goal of the program. The Youth still indulged in very risky practices that predispose them to HIV infection.
Njinikom Sub Division has the Catholic Mission General Hospital opened in April 1963 by Cameroon’s former president, Ahmadou Ahidjo. There is a small government hospital at Fuanantui, some 4 km from the Catholic hospital. There are also Health posts at Mbueni, Yang, Kikfuni and Mugheff ikui.
Accessibility to these health institutions is still constrained by high level poverty. Only a small percent of the population actually attend hospital. While Njinikom Catholic Hospital has 4 resident Doctors, the government hospital in Fuanantui has no Doctor. By contrast, there are over 200 traditional Doctors (according to the President of the Traditional Doctors Association) in this Sub Division.
Objectives of the campaign:
President Nelson Mandela once said “if you speak to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you speak to him in his own language, that goes to his heart” The method we used was one of participatory discussion, demonstrations (sort of role play) on how proper treatment should be given, how to use razor blades, how to get medicine from its bottle and apply on someone without going back to it with stains of blood that can in turn touch another patient. For razor blades, one man for one razor blade was the slogan. Thus the presentations were done in our mother language – Kom the language all participants understand. Pidgin English was also used some how.
Pre-knowledge of Participants on HIV:
Over 80% of the participants had attended a similar training on HIV organized by Project Hope Njinikom, especially on how to avoid transmitting HIV to others. The rest of 20% have heard of HIV before, heard of its transmission but had not got this information from a seminar. In all, of them had a general idea.
The training program was handled by Julius Peeters Tohmuntain (Jurist) Ban Michael (Secondary school Teacher) both of them former staff members of Project Hope in charge of Trainings. They had for a period spanning 5 years been involved in HIV Trainings organized and sponsored by Project Hope and or UNICEF. The other was Nke Valentine (High School teacher). Topics discussed included among others:
Reaction of participants:
The main reaction came from the executive of the association. Bobe Hilary Kube its president was overwhelmed that it is the son of Njinikom in Germany initiating this good and timely training. By extending their grateful gesture to him through the facilitators, he insisted that this training will become more useful, more effective if it is taken to other Sub Divisions of Boyo Division; Belo, Fundong and Bum. He was also happy that those who have never attended training before were present for this one. But he frowned at those who still keep away from trainings. To him, these are the people who are involved in the very risky practices that the training is intended to address. He added that there over 200 traditional doctors in Njinikom Sub Division alone, and on their register, they have only 38 regular members. He reminded his colleagues that the government has set aside August 31 every year as the celebration of Traditional Doctors day.
Other participants spoke in a more satisfying manner, especially those who have never attended training on HIV before. They expressed profound satisfaction of how enriching the training has been.
Key messages carried home:
Further steps to be taken;
Many other very risky groups still need such trainings:
Recommendation reflects what is just mentioned in the above paragraph.