Located in the corner of Africa, Cameroon lies in the intersection of West Africa and Central Africa. The north of Cameroon is dry and contains vast savannas, while the south is home to dense tropical forests. Ecologically, Cameroon is culturally rich, with more than 200 ethnic groups. Banso Baptist Hospital, located near the city of Kumbo in northeastern Cameroon, is an ideal location from which to experience the culture of this remarkable nation.
TransportationInternational flights arrive in the city of Douala, located near the coast. Most flights come from Europe and arrive in the afternoon. A driver will meet guests at the airport and take them to the hospital guest house in Douala to spend the night.
Visa RequirementAmericans need to get a visitor’s visa in advance from the Cameroon Embassy in Washington, D.C. For the most up-to-date information, please visit the website for the Cameroon Embassy website at http://ambacam-usa.org.
Medical LicenseResident physicians do not need a temporary license to practice in Cameroon.
Traveler’s Health & SafetyPlease check the CDC travel website for the most up-to-date information by visiting http://www.cdc.gov/travel/default.aspx.
Visitors are advised to regularly check the U.S. State Department website for the most up-to-date information regarding travel advisories: http://www.state.gov/travelandbusiness
FacilityBanso Baptist Hospital is a full-service hospital with a daily census of 250-300 patients. Outpatient services include the entire range of family medicine, including prenatal care and well-child care. 4,000 outpatients are seen monthly, during which the hospital hosts 80-100 deliveries. Mbingo Hospital, affiliated with Banso, has a similar inpatient census, and hosts 50 deliveries monthly.
Banso and Mbingo hospitals are part of a health network that includes 23 health centers, a nursing school, and a village health worker training program. Banso and Mbingo hospitals are part of the Pan-African Surgical residency.
Banso and Mbingo hospitals host an aggressive HIV program, headquartered in the city of Bamenda, lead by Dennis Palmer MD, and funded by the CDC, USAID and Gates Foundation. Pregnant women are screened for HIV and appropriately treated at the time of delivery to prevent transmission to their newborns. This program is known by the acronym PMTCT (Prevention of Mother To Child Transmission). Additionally, 500 HIV positive patients are receiving outpatient medical management of their disease through the HIV clinics at Banso and Mbingo hospitals, and at associated health centers.
WebsiteFor additional pictures of Banso and Mbingo Baptist Hospitals, and the surrounding area, please visit http://www.spotlightoncameroon.org
PatientsMost patients coming to Banso and Mbingo are traditional Africans, who make a living through farming. Most have very low income, and many have already sought assistance from a local healer before coming for medical care. A very large number of children are brought to Banso and Mbingo.
Medical StaffBanso Baptist Hospital is staffed by two American physicians, an internist and a surgeon. Mbingo Hospital has two additional American physicians, a surgeon and a family physician. Each hospital is also served by 8-10 Cameroonian physicians, two of whom are ophthalmologists.
LanguageMost all patients speak English in this region of Cameroon. No translation is needed. Other regions of Cameroon are predominately French speaking.
Student ExperienceStudents begin their experience with a two-day orientation into the culture of Cameroon and the functioning of the medical centers. Following this, students rotate for about a week at a time in the adult, surgical, pediatrics and obstetrics wards of Banso and Mbing hospitals. Students are primarily responsible for patient care, with immediate supervision available from an attending physician. Student responsibilities include night call. Banso and Mbing pride themselves in offering students an intense, clinically-oriented, hands-on training experience. Special emphasis on HIV care, pediatrics, obstetrics, and other fields is available.
Student BlogsGretchen Apps
Student Lodging & MealsStudents are provided lodging at the Douala guest house, the hospital dorm, a morning and evening meal, and all in-country transportation for a flat fee. Additional expenses may include the noon meals, the Internet café, phone calls, snacks and gifts.
CommunicationThe hospitals and guest houses have telephone service. An Internet café is available for about $1 per hour.
DressConservative is the watch-word. Men to work should wear long parts, such at kakis but no jeans. Collared shirts are necessary, but not neck ties. Physicians normally wear white coats.
Women to work wear dresses below the knee. Pants are not worn to work. Shirts can be sleeveless, but should be loose fitting, with no waist line showing. Tank tops are not acceptable. Women can wear slacks in the dorm or to town, but dresses are generally more acceptable.
What To PackTravelers are advised to pack a carry on-bag that has their essentials, including a change of clothes, just in case luggage becomes lost. Also, it’s usually best to bring two suitcases, each half full, to provide space to pack souvenirs for the return trip. Snack foods and a stethoscope will be useful to bring along.