Field experience in the small hospital of GalaGala

December 5, 2017 - Two weeks of workcamp in Cameroon, guests in the small hospital of the Sisters of Charity of S. Giovanna Antida. The team consisted of a teacher, a resident, an anesthesiologist and a nurse UCBM who from 17 to 30 April donated their own know-how at the health center and, at the same time, "learned a way of doing medicine with limited resources, an important skill". An experience that, months later, was recounted in workshop dedicated to tropical surgery Saturday 2 December, atUniversità Campus Bio-Medico di Roma.  
The professor. Marco Caricato, the resident Luca Improta, the anesthetist Ferdinando Longo and the nurse Fabrizio Burgio were welcomed about 800 kilometers from Yaoundè, the capital, at the SJAT hospital in GalaGala. A new centre, inaugurated in April 2016 and "better equipped than can usually be found in Africa". A hospital with a functioning operating block, two gynecologists and an anesthesia nurse. A small team that nevertheless knew how to work together with the Italian team with great passion.
The story of the team UCBM unfortunately it begins with the death of Sylvie, a young woman for whose life so much has been done at the small hospital, but in vain: "We take her back to her room, to her loved ones, we watch her fade away. Morale is down, the anger is so great and the suffering of the family is excruciating. At dinner, we all reflect together on how to change something. The work appears immense, the means meager, but the strength of those who have always been here manages to rekindle hope. One step at a time we will move forward and grow".
A growth that, in the following days, passed for example through "the rational reorganization of the mountain of surgical instruments left in the wardrobes to oxidize, while we we were looking for a way to apply the guidelines on good clinical practice in this context so different from ours".

These are the words of Sister Maria Grazia, director general of the hospital, which explain the difficulties she encounters every day to make ends meet in a structure that should provide services entirely at the expense of patients who often do not have the means to pay their bills: "Here care is not denied to anyone and aid and donations are still essential to keep the hospital active in the expectation that, with the increase in attendance and services, it can achieve economic independence". The workcamp participants continue: "The technical means are poor and the preparation of the personnel can never be sufficient to cover the needs of the structure; the funds available are not sufficient to overcome these obstacles. We had a lot of discussions about how to help this reality and we came to the conclusion that the only possible solution to build something lasting would have been to guarantee constant resources and training, without being in a hurry to reap the benefits".
For this reason, during the two weeks of stay in Cameroon, they were not lacking advice on surgical techniques, insights into the use of the defibrillator, explanations, presentations for local staff. The participants conclude: "At the end of this experience, the director told usingthanked and asked to return, not to abandon the project, to continue this journey together. It was a goodbye among friends. The looks and smiles of these people have entered our hearts, the commitment of those who are there to fight every day gives us strength: this project must go on and, despite all the difficulties, time, commitment and effort that it will take, we know that even this small hospital forgotten in the red dust can and must become great for the people of Ngaoundal".