“I strive to Brighten my little corner everyday”
Dr. Fozao Mbi Vanessa is a 25-year-old fearless consulting medical doctor at the Banso Baptist Hospital Care and Treatment Center, a facility supported by the HIV-Free NW Project. As the Treatment Center Site Physician, Vanessa supervises HIV related activities in BBH and satellite sites within Kumbo West Health District and Oku Health District in the North West Region of Cameroon. Kumbo West Health District covers 19 health areas with a population density of over 43.000 inhabitants.
“Generally, I don’t respect boundaries, wherever we have clients, I am there. My goal is to save lives,” she states. Putting smiles on peoples’ faces is the satisfactory reward Vanessa gets for waking up every 5am to start her day. The quest to “fix people” started when she was a teenager. Growing up with a father who is also a Medical Doctor, Vanessa spent a lot of time around the hospital which made her cultivate the desire to make peoples’ lives better by improving on their health. Hence, the choice of a medical career wasn’t a difficult one for her.
The shortage of medical personnel in an underserved war-torn area like Kumbo, gave the much-needed impetus to this young doctor to not only serve in the Banso Baptist Hospital but to organize outreach services in rural communities, where she could offer life-saving health care services to the community members who could hardly afford such care.
“It’s true that a single person can’t make a hospital, yet some of these hospitals have no single person to help. So, I’m just brightening my little corner as much as I can, supported by my team members,” Vanessa adds. According to Vanessa, if people know about a disease and the preventive measures, there will be no need for treatment. Working with PLHIV whose vulnerable immune systems put them at risk of contracting opportunistic diseases, Venessa leaves no stone unturned to penetrate the hinterlands with life-saving health talks. It is from this back drop that Venessa organizes massive sensitization and health talks to encourage clients to adhere to treatment.
Kumbo West Health District, being one of the most affected areas by the ongoing socio-political crisis that started in 2016, the humanitarian and health needs are on the rise and only the valiant like Vanessa still patrols the Health District to offer quality care to the inhabitants. She organizes work in a way that permits her to meet the needs of those in the hospital and in the community.
Outreach in enclaved communities remains a daunting task. Most of the roads are not motorable, with several road-blocks. After taking all precautionary measures, Vanessa has adopted the use of Project Bikers for Health to get access to the hinterlands regardless of the threats of getting killed in a cross-fire between the military or the non-state armed men. While she admits that the fear of the unknown sometimes grips her mind, she says the need to improve the lives of the people in her community over shadows everything else.
In meeting the need of the people, Vanessa organizes trips to no-go-areas where the inhabitants have stayed for months without receiving any health care. One of such death-defying trips was a trip to Ngeptang, a village in Noni with no communication network. She dared the dreaded land, telling herself it’s “for the people”. She spent three days with the people of Ngeptang where she offered a free comprehensive healthcare package on different health topics. She and her team consulted over 300 people, identified 3 long Lost to Follow-up (LTFU) HIV positive clients, diagnosed two new cases of HIV, dewormed close to 200 people including children and collected over 30 viral load samples. Two PLHIV diagnosed with Advanced HIV Disease (AHD) were referred back to the hospital for proper management with the aid of the Project.
Dr. Fozao and team have toured over 20 villages such as Bamnti, Mbonso and Mii where they offered the same kind of services to the under-privileged communities in hard -to- reach areas. “In all the communities, a comprehensive health talk on COVID-19, HIV and AIDS, hygiene and sanitation, malaria and other health issues is always done before consultations,” emphasizes Dr. Fozao.
Dr. Fozao Mbi Vanessa is a medical doctor every health personnel should emulate.