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The health related articles on this page are intended more for the general public. Although the author (Njei M.T) is a pharmacist, his approach is not restricted to health professionals. > The Shisong Cardiac Center---A hidden Jewel

16 Dec 2013

The Shisong Cardiac Center---A hidden jewel

The Shisong Cardiac center stands out of the crowd as one serious medical institution in Africa. Situated in Kumbo (some 100 kilometres from Bamenda in the North West Region of Cameroon) this multimillion dollar center has quietly made its mark. The cardiac center is part of the st. Elizabeth Catholic hospital complex that is owned and run by the Tertiary Sisters of st. Francis. It is a reference center in Central African sub region.

After reading an article about the center, I decided to make a fact finding trip there on December 6th& 7th2013. Contrary to what I expected, the road from Bamenda to Kumbo is very nice by Cameroon standards. The scenery all along the road from Bamenda to Kumbo is very enticing. The Sabga hills, the Ndop plain and the meandering road on the Wainamah hill all give a touristic touch to the trip.

 Photo: Njei M.T

The heart Center is sort of a semi autonomous institution located within the St. Elizabeth’s Catholic General Hospital Shisong. The hospital is organized in such a way that a visitor experiences little difficulties.  I arrived the hospital complex after 6 pm and indicated that I have to consult the following day. I was given a choice to rent a hotel room outside the hospital or pay a modest amount for accommodation within the hospital complex (price range $6 to $20 per night depending on the type of accommodation). The hospital also operates a restaurant where a plate of food cost as little as half a dollar. I had a cheap dinner there before going to my $6 hostel for the night. One thing a visitor to the Center cannot fail to notice is the cleanliness of the hospital.

Photo: Njei M.T

After my consultation the following day, I sat down with the Center’s Public Relation officer Nicoline Barah Lukong to get more information about the Heart Center. From my discussion with her, it emerged that despite the various services offered by the Center at comparatively affordable prices, many Cameroonians still go outside the country to obtain the same services at about three to five times the cost.  Since 2009 the Shisong Cardiac center has been performing Open Heart surgery, catheterisation, and pace maker implantation.  Parents with children who are born with heart anomalies need not look further for a solution to their children’s problem because this Center has been doing excellent work on congenital heart disease.At the time of my visit, the Center had three resident specialists (Dr. Jean Claude Ambassa (cardiologist), Dr. Charles Mve Mvondo (cardiac surgeon) and Dr. Jacques Cabral Tantchou (cardiologist). The complete personnel team has in addition, a pharmacist (Dr Foppa Rodrigue), 52 nurses, 6 administrative staff and 22 technical/administrative staff. The overall boss of the Shisong Hospital complex is Sr Ebamu Ruphina while the General Manager of the Cardiac Center is Sr. Jethro Nkenglefac. The hospital occasionally gets assistance from their partners abroad (mostly from Italy) in the form of specialists on short term working visits. The cardiac center is currently estimated to be functioning at about 50% of its capacity due to patients inability to pay for its services and also partly due to the absence of a resident anaesthesiologist.

Inside the Cardiac Center: Shisong Hospital brochure images

Archbishop Paul Verdzekov Memorial Foundation: This foundation created in 2010 and based in Shisong hospital was conceived with the aim to raise awareness of cardiovascular disease and also to harness financial resources from individuals and institutions of good will to assist patients who due to poverty cannot genuinely raise money for cardiac surgery. According to the foundation’s brochure, “168 patients were operated between Nov 2009 and June 2011, but only 65 patients (38.7%) were able to pay above 2 of the 3 million cfa francs surgery bills without external assistance.”

The relative modest cost compared to what is obtained elsewhere which people of good will are called upon to assist are listed below

Open heart surgery--------------------3,000,000cfa (approx. $6000)

Diagnostic Catheterisation-----------655,000cfa

Interventional Catheterisation------2,600,000cfa

Diagnostic Coronarography----------655,000cfa

Pace maker double chamber--------1,310,000cfa

Pace maker one chamber-------------1,010,000cfa

Based on my appraisal of this institution, I will not hesitate to recommend it for any patient with heart disease.

For more information visit www.shisonghospital.org

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Njei Moses Timah