The CBC Health Services a member of the Cameroon Civil Society NCD Alliance is collaborating with the Jordan Breast Cancer Program to scale up the treatment and management of breast cancer in particular and other cancers affecting women in Cameroon in general. The collaboration which allows for exchange visits and knowledge sharing saw the CBC Health Services Non-Communicable Disease Prevention and Control Program Coordinator, Mr. Mbiydzenyuy Ferdinant and the Woman’s Health Program Supervisor, Manjuh Florence traveled to Jordan to learn from the country’s experiences in managing breast cancer.
Shortly after returning from the visit, Akem Olives Nkwain had a chat with Ferdinant Mbiydzenyuy on ‘Focus on the CBC Health Services’. Below is an interview conducted with him during the program.
What was the overall objective of your trip?
This trip is thanks to the UICC – Union for International Cancer Control which allowed us have an exchange visit with the King Hussein Cancer Foundation. It was mainly to learn about what the Jordan Breast Cancer Program is doing. It is important to always learn from others who have succeeded in doing something and to know exactly what made them succeed and what their challenges were so that when you want to start something in your Organization, it will be easy to mitigate challenges and be able to start with more focus and make informed decisions.
It was great to realize how the Breast Cancer program in Jordan started especially as cancer was initially a curse in their setting – a Muslim dominated setting. That made it difficult to start a cancer program. That is worse than our situation because here (Cameroon), people know that cancer is not a curse.
On the other hand, there was a high political will to mitigate cancer because the people who were involved had experienced cancer in the Royal family. This shows that cancer affects everyone irrespective of background once you are exposed to the risk factors. The Royal Family experience with cancer enabled Leaders of their country to erase the notion of a taboo around cancer and fight against it. The High Political Will supported activities to initiate prevention and control of Breast Cancer and other cancers.
Today the King Hussein Cancer foundation which hosts this Jordanian Breast Cancer program is the sixth in the world for cancer treatment in general and the 3rd on Breast cancer. So they are far advanced when it comes to prevention and control; they have several programs and activities that assist them to generate the demand for screening as well as treatment and also have several things put in place for people to have access to Prevention and Treatment of Breast Cancer
What are you bringing back new?
First, I will like to make this comment, when you are working especially within your context, you virtually do not ‘see above the waters’ but when you go out and see what others have done you virtually start ‘seeing above the waters’. With this, you can understand where you were, and measure up. This will give you a clearer vision that enables you to make more strides. One of the impacts on me is the courage that I/we should do better. I don’t mean we are not doing well, we are doing well but it’s good to acknowledge when people are doing better. For example, there is already great treatment going on in other countries like Jordan, but here in Cameroon we have limited treatment, and we are limited in terms of diagnoses and capacity as well. However, I learned the importance of working by the locally generated evidence. When you work through evidence basis and evidence-based processes, it can allow you to better contextualize and it can allow you to better provide services that are most relevant for the population. I have learned a lot around evidence generation specifically for breast cancer and other cancers and NCDs.
How soon will the population begin to feel the impact of this knowledge sharing and learning experience of this visit?
I think they will begin to feel it both immediately and as time goes on because this depends on the scale and on the processes we need to engage. To achieve this, we will engage in the contextualization of different things and we will also be doing a lot of things but only after working on it in the ‘laboratory’, I mean back in the program. Ultimately it will be to improve patient care and also to improve access to preventive opportunities or services to the population. Much will happen in the communities in early 2020.
You head the NCD Prevention and Control Program of the CBC Health Services that has of recent embarked on ensuring that we beat NCDs in our communities if you stand on that message, what will you be telling the population in terms of joining in the fight against NCDs?
The population needs to realize that all of us are directly or indirectly affected. If you think about it for a moment, if your child has cancer, it can be very painful just like it can be hard for the family of an adult who has a cardiovascular condition or any of the NCDs like diabetes, hypertension, and or chronic respiratory disease. A lot of people get their incomes drained because they have to follow treatment every month; families go through suffering because they have to spare more cash for things related to the medication for even just one person in the family, and it increases the risk for other family members getting the disease condition because the disease also has something to do with the genetics of the family. With all of this knowing that NCDs are not just one disease but a couple of diseases which have similar risk factors, it’s a huge problem and the community has to make sure they join their hands with organizations like the CBC Health Services that are working to prevent and control these Non Communicable Diseases.
Join us when we run campaigns against tobacco, alcohol misuse, campaigns that promote health in the community. We encourage people to join us in different ways. You can join us in as little as even liking our CBC Health Services Social Media pages like Facebook and Twitter that deliver such important messages and sharing the messages for them to reach more people because we take time to build those messages and if you spread them you could just be helping someone.
Join us! Together we can beat NCDs.