Kumbo, a town in rural Northwestern Cameroon, is home to the only cardiac clinic in Central Africa. Ten hours away from the capital Yaoundé, patients now get the same attention as they would in Europe. Its flagship: a state-of-the-art catheterization laboratory (cath lab) equipped with an Siemens AXIOM® Artis dFC linked to the AXIOM Sensis XP Lite data center. Cardio-vascular diseases have not been the focus of medical attention in Africa in the past. But doctors have found that not only have heart diseases been underdiagnosed so far and their importance underestimated, but their number is also rising due to lifestyle changes. "Cardiovascular diseases have the potential to become the number one killer in Cameroon if nothing is done," warns cardiologist Jean-Claude Ambassa. With the opening of an ultramodern cardiac clinic in the town of Kumbo, Cameroon, Ambassa and his colleagues are running the first such hospital in all Central Africa. The centerpiece for fast and accurate diagnosis as well as modern invasive treatment is a Siemens-equipped cath lab.
Treatment at home
When Derick Fonyuy was twelve years old, doctors told his parents he needed urgent heart surgery. A valve on the right side of his heart had to be replaced. His parents were shocked - but lucky: At last minute, they found a charity that paid for Derick to go to Paris, live with a host family and be operated there. Derick, now 21, still remembers vividly how scared he was then. "I was alone in a foreign country and I thought I was going to die." But Derick lived - and returned home. Nine years after his first heart surgery, the pain returned. The doctors diagnosed a blockage of the same valve and told him he needed another urgent surgery. But this time, instead of flying abroad, Derick just had to take a bus to Kumbo. Here, in Shisong Hospital, doctors gave him all the care he needed. "All this is possible now without paying for expensive air fees - it's a miracle," says Fonyuy.
Finance and staff main problems
The Cardiac Centre is a roaring success. In the past two years since its inception, more than 10,000 patients have come for consultation. Sister Jethro Nkenglefac, a nun with the tertiary sisters of St. Francis and general manager of the Cardiac Centre, has her hands full. Finance, she says, is her biggest worry. The cost of running a cardiac centre in the middle of nowhere is high. Almost all the special equipment has to be ordered in Europe and sent to Cameroon by ship. The other problem is the high cost of surgery, which only a part of the patients can afford. "The list of those who want surgery is long", Nkenglefac says. "But only every other one on the list can actually go into surgery" - because for lack of money, but also because the hospital still lacks the necessary surgeons. Many Cameroonians who study abroad don't want to come back to their home country because of low wages, but also because they can't use the knowledge they have gained abroad. The modern Siemens equipment in Shisong Hospital is changing that by offering highly qualified cardiac surgeons a world-class working environment.