Beryl Thyer Memorial Africa Trust: supporting African children that suffer from Burkitt lymphoma cancer

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Archive for January, 2018

2017: a year of change, part 2

2017 also marked the opening at Mutengene Baptist Hospital of 2 small wards converted specifically for the treatment of children with cancer.

Our tiny (extremely cramped) ward at the main treatment centre, Mbingo Baptist Hospital (MBH) is being extended and transformed at this moment into a purpose designed childrens cancer treatment unit.  7 years ago we (BTMAT) had a firm promise of funding for this development from Kettering Huxloe Rotary – but lost this when the fund-raising schedule of Kettering Rotary could not be coordinated with the MBH strategic building plan. Now with funding via World Child Cancer (WCC) building is underway – but again we almost missed the deadline for receipt of a major grant!

On our May 2017 visit Prof Hesseling and I were joined by two doctors and the lead nurse, Rachel Hollis, from Leeds General Infirmary childrens cancer treatment unit.  We introduced them to Prof Pius Tih, Director of the Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Service (CBCHS) and they are now fully committed to the CBC childrens cancer treatment programme.  An agreement has been established at institutional level with Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust!  One of the Leeds doctors, Jessica Morgan first met Francine when visiting Banso Baptist Hospital as a medical student many years ago! The Leeds team have visited twice this year and will do the same in 2018. Prof Hesseling  can now take a more advisory role.  I remain a trustee of BTMAT and with my fellow BTMAT trustees  committed to the purchase or sourcing of chemotherapy drugs and to the payment of hospital bills of all children with cancer treated under our programme.  This ensures that parents are not faced with a bill that they cannot pay – and therefore that our children stay in hospital for a full course of treatment.

Children holding messages saying “Thanks to CBCHS/BTMAT/World Child Cancer”, May 2017

Paul Wharin, December  2017.

2017: a year of change, part 1

Our senior Cameroonian colleague, Dr Francine Kouya returned from Cape Town to Mbingo Baptist Hospital (MBH) on May 2nd – after 2 years further training in childrens cancer medicine (paediatric oncology) at Tygerberg Hospital, Cape Town.

Francine is now supervisor of paediatric oncology for the Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Service (CBCHS). Our lead nurse, Glenn Mbah, completed an on-line Masters in Public Health at Roehampton, London – partly financed by Beryl Thyer Trust (BTMAT) – and has been appointed programme manager. Francine and Glenn are now in overall charge of the childrens cancer treatment programme at the 3 CBC hospitals. They will need our support as they attempt to treat an ever wider spectrum of cancers and the workload increases dramatically! We (BTMAT and World Child Cancer) have invested heavily in the further training of our Cameroonian colleagues especially our nurses – a sound investment for the future of paediatric oncology in Cameroon.

Our We Care Parent Home at MBH opened in May with a ceremony marked by much joyful prayer and thanksgiving. I was asked to join the senior administrator, Richard Nji in cutting one of the ribbons. There are traditional firewood kitchens for mothers in a separate block behind the hostel.  One of the hospital nutritionists calls weekly to teach mothers the nutritional value of local foodstuffs and how best to prepare them. We (BTMAT) have agreed to support the salary of a full-time primary school teacher for all the children (oncology ward and We Care home).  This parent home is a first for Cameroon and means that mothers who previously camped out in the hospital grounds now have a place to stay with their child between chemotherapies.  In pidgin English the name We Care translates “We de Lookout”.

Opening of the We Care home, May 2017: Glenn (3rd from left) and Dr Francine (4th from left).

Opening of the We Care home, May 2017: Glenn (3rd from left) and Dr Francine (4th from left).

Paul Wharin, December  2017.