Maroua, capital city of the Far North region is the latest destination where the CBC Health Services’ train carrying Christ’s love via the provision of compassionate care has landed. At a time when many NGOs in the Northwest and Southwest regions are breaking under the weight of the ongoing armed conflict, God is opening a wider door to the CBCHS into yet, another crisis stricken region of the country, precisely in the Far North plagued by the infamous Boko Haram onslaughts for about five years now. And he, God knows how to protect his own, so there is no reason to panic!
In the words of Prof. Tih Pius Muffih, Director of Health Services (DHS), “The hospital we are receiving in Maroua is a free gift!”
As the story goes, the Medical Centers for West Africa – better known in French as the Centre Médicaux de L’Afrique de L’Ouest (CMAO) was created as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) by missionaries from the USA and registered as a foreign Association with legal status in Cameroon in 1993. It officially started operating in 1994 with the goal to make healthcare services accessible to inhabitants of the Far North region of Cameroon who were highly underserved.
Before the Boko Haram (BH) insurgence broke out and intensified CMAO provided healthcare services via its facility in Meskine and also supported a Leprosy village and primary school – both of which started in the locality in 1952 and 2014 respectively.
The Meskine is a health area in the Extreme North of Cameroon under the Maroua I, Health District with a population estimated at 2, 8120 (2017). The hospital has a 125-bed capacity, 130 staff and currently provides only basic healthcare services. Before the BH insurgence intensified in the area, Meskine hospital served as a major referral hospital in the region and to neighboring countries such as Tchad, Central Africa and Sudan. By 2016 the facility received in total 1, 339 pregnant women and registered 1, 317 live births.
However, the hospital’s operational capacity and performance began to drop significantly following the Boko Haran insurgence that broke out in the region. As for now, its structures (covering three out of the twelve hectares of total hospital land) are in an advanced state of dilapidation. In 2014, the missionaries decided to leave the region as a result of increasing insecurity resulting from the BH activities and to transfer the facility to local management. Initially, the missionaries used indigenous church leaders to ensure the management of the hospital. As this approach did not prevent the hospital from recording low performance, the missionaries then decided to completely transfer the facility to local ownership – preferably to a credible indigenous faith-based organization.
Late 2019, the Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services (CBCHS) was approached to take over the management of Meskine Hospital. In January of 2020, the transfer to the CBCHS began while in the same period, CBCHS management also started exploring ways to upgrade and revitalize the facility. An Administrative, technical and clinical mission was carried out in the hospital to assess the facility which is now called Meskine Baptist Hospital, Maroua (MBHM). During this assessment mission, CBCHS’s staff reviewed the hospital management, clinical operations, the state of infrastructures and equipment. The assessment revealed critical gaps in staffing, management systems, equipment and infrastructure that require urgent corrective measures. If adequately upgraded MBHM will be able to deliver services in alignment with global standards and with the country’s Health Sector Strategy.
The first visit took place on December 27, 2019 comprising the Director of Health Services, Prof. Tih Pius Muffih, the CBC Director of Evangelism and Missions, Rev. Dr. Paul Wose Mokake, the Chief Medical Officer of Mbingo Baptist Hospital, Dr. Nora Talla and the Administrator of Etoug-Ebe Baptist Hospital Yaounde, Mr. Yongwa Zaccs. This team received the hospital and took control effective January 1, 2020.
The second visit took place in stages with the arrival of various teams from February 28 through March 3, 2020. Mrssrs Yongwa Zaccs and Nformi Nickson were the first to arrive followed later on by Prof. Tih Pius, Chiambah Abraham, Toh Orlando, Kinen Emmanuel and Fombe Justin. This technical and clinical team observed and noted what to applaud and maintain and what to fix in the new hospital to match up with CBCHS standards of care and operations.
Accosted, Mrssrs Nformi Nickson and Yongwa Zaccs confided to CBCHS Communication Unit in Yaounde shortly after arrival from Maroua that the CBCHS is going to the Far North region on prepared grounds. They observed that the new CBC hospital in Maroua will serve as a springboard to invade the northern part of Cameroon, give more visibility to CBC churches in that part of the country that quite often considers mushroom churches as sects, stemming from the bad example portrayed to the people before by some exploitative NGOs.
In spite of the huge infrastructure in place, the working team observed the need for improvement by renovating and remodeling them to accommodate specialized services such as eye, dental, surgery etc, which are absent for the moment. The existing staff are very cooperative and welcoming and there is also need to integrate them as CBCHS workers as well as redefining the administrative structure for better coordination.
At the time of this report, one of the indigenous doctors at the hospital in Maroua was gaining orientation in CBCHS hospitals in Mboppi, Nkwen and Mbingo.