Breastfeeding is important in Cameroon. There is often no access to clean water for mothers to make formula and the formula is prohibitively expensive. That being said, breastfeeding can be difficult and sometimes impossible. When babies are premature or the mothers are sick, the mother's breast milk can be delayed. Also, HIV positive mothers often have to decide if there is any way to provide milk for their child other than breastfeeding as this exposes the baby to risk of HIV conversion. Mbingo has a breast milk bank to provide breast milk to these babies for a short period of time while the mother's milk is coming in or other options are explored.
Angela is breastfeeding Ben and has been pumping in the evenings to get extra breast milk to donate to the breast milk bank for the pediatrics department. This photo shows her giving some milk to Priscilla, the head midwife of the maternity ward. Priscilla will take the milk, pasteurize it, put it in 1 ounce containers and freeze it. The milk will then be used over the next days and weeks for the babies whose mothers do not have enough milk. Angela has enjoyed being able to contribute to this important program.
Access to milk for babies is just one of many things we struggle to provide due to resource problems both at Mbingo and in Cameroon as a whole. This photo is of one dose of amphotericin B. We need this medicine to adequately treat cryptococcal meningitis in our HIV-positive adult patients. Without it, we have to use fluconazole alone, which is third-line treatment. We searched Cameroon for a year to get this medicine and finally found a small supply (50 doses). This ran out in a few weeks as each patient needs a minimum of 7 doses (shortened course for resource poor settings). Now we are on the lookout for more...
Ok...guess what this is. If you said "fish bone" you are correct. We had a patient referred to Mbingo from Douala after getting a bone stuck in his throat 5 days before when eating fish. Chuck did an EGD and pulled this fish bone from his upper esophagus using biopsy forceps. The patient immediately felt better and promised to always check his fish for bones in the future. Douala is one of the main cities in Cameroon, so it was interesting that he left that city to come 6 hours to get the procedure done here. Many people trust us to provide their medical care even if it is a long trip to get here. We also deliver the care at a fraction of the cost which is important to patients who have little to no money.
Circumcision Day. The surgery clinic turns into a circumcision factory for about an hour a few days each week. They line up the baby boys on a stretcher, wheel them from the newborn nursery through the hospital, and go down the line doing circumcisions. Gilbert is actually a nurse anesthetist, but has been trained to do circumcisions and is performing the one in the photo. You can also see how well the mothers bundle their newborn babies.
Sanda is a painter who lives in Ngaoundere in the northern area of Cameroon. He travels down to Mbingo a few times a year to sell his paintings to raise funds. The rest of the year, he works with street children who are orphaned mostly from parents that have died from HIV. He ministers to them in many ways, but also teaches them to paint. They can then use this skill for the rest of their lives. We have bought many paintings from him like the one in this photo. He is a great artist and an even greater man and we like that we can help support his ministry.
Angela's parents have been visiting and helping us for the past couple weeks. Mike has since traveled back to the US, but Betty is here for another week. They have been a huge help while JR Young has been back in the US interviewing for a pediatrics emergency medicine fellowship. Mike worked at the hospital and Betty has been keeping the kids while Angela and Lindsay have both been working full-time. It has been great to have them here and we will miss them when they are gone.
We used the chance of having grandparent childcare to take a hike without Chuck carrying Isaac on his back or Angela carrying Ben in the Baby Bjorn carrier. We ended up getting wet from a heavy afternoon rain shower, but views before and after were worth it. You can see the hospital in the background off Chuck's left shoulder.
Ben is enjoying the Baby Bjorn carrier and we like to take him on walks. He just got enough head control to sit forward so he can check out the world. He is a big boy.
Ben loves his mom. He has been smiling a lot lately and even gave us his first true laugh just a few days ago. He is growing fast and Isaac and Cathen are often trying to get his attention and make him smile.
Thanks as always for your prayers, emails, financial support, and just letting us know you are following along with us.