I assisted a public health conference on medical error in Cameroon organised by Denis & Lenora Forentia Foundation in Yaounde on the 30th of May.
The four hours conference was moderated by Prof Assob Jules C with Dr Nkwescheu Armand as speaker in the presence of about 50 participants (physicians, nurses, laboratory technicians, communicators, civil society representatives, and other professionals).
Following the discussions during the conference, two points could be retained to explain the causes of medical error within the Cameroonian context:
I) The structure of the cameroonian health system (systemic factor).
- The structure and organisation of Cameroon's health system contributes in fragilizing its output. Human resources in health not enough, contributing to work overload, and poor performance.
- Lack of infrastructure (especially in the rural areas) and poor design does not always meet-up with the need of patients and enable health professionals to work effectively.
- Quality training of health professionals
- Difficulties in implementing quality care standards
- The absence of effective communication between patients and health practioners and inbetween health practioners to make informed health decisions.
II) Very significant difficulties with respect to the availability of and access to evidence, healthcare information (lay and professional) to guide informed healthcare decision making and promote (mental) health at all levels of the society.
Many health practioners are not up-to-date with the developements of their field.
Citizens are not exposed to the healthcare information they need to take control of their health. Making them unable to raise concerns adequately when their needs are not met or their rights violated. The HIFA in Cameroon is working to raise awareness on the relevance of healthcare information while developping ways to make this information available
The Cameroonian context entertains an enduring belief of the Physician-God. This prevents effective reflexivity of practice, promotion of the collaboration between health users and health providers, deep reflection on professionalism and ethics. It was intriguing to realize that many of the participants present had experienced the effects of medical error indirectly or directly.
The conference was an opportunity to reaffirm the commitment of HIFA to enhance, engage in the developement of ways to enable healthcare information to be readily available and accessible so as to promote health and improve on Cameroon's health system performance.
This conference, one of the very few ever organized in Cameroon for a long while sets in to pose a solid base for on the one hand, a reflection on practices, attitudes, and behaviours that affect quality of health. And on the other hand, the developement of mechanisms to reduce and gain insight into medical error for healthcare developement. It is necessary to raise more awareness to enable all actors (health providers and health users) of the Cameroonian health system to collaborate to expose systematically and consistently medical error so as to derive meaning from it therefore contributing to reducing it. The role of media communication, (mental) health promotion in this endeavour needs to be robust, systematic, efficient, strategic and consistent so that medical errors be seen more as a way to improve quality healthcare than anything else, while improving on meeting-up with the needs of patients and respecting
HIFA profile: Didier Demassosso is a School Counsellor at the Ministry of Secondary Education in Cameroon. HIFA Country Representative For Cameroon/HIFA Country Represenative of the year 2014 and Mental Health Worker. Professional interests: Health Promotion, Mental Health Promotion, School mental health promotion, School health promotion, Mobile Health, Mental health, Public health, Public mental health, Trauma, Environment,the mind, ICT, Culture, Adolescent/Child health, Maternal health. He is a HIFA Country Representative.
Email: didier.demassosso AT gmail.com