The motivation to create this organization stems from our childhood experiences, personal life and clinical practice while managing chronically-ill patients in health facilities (private and public) in both urban and rural settings of Cameroon. We realized that clients’ have diverse health-seeking behaviours. They visit different hospitals and various practitioners in search of solutions for their problems. This entails multiple visits to same level facilities and most often same grade of doctors. Hence, these clients spend a lot on repeated consultations, numerous booklets, repeated para-clinical investigations and prescriptions. This phenomenon was common among the elderly and patients with chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, senile arthritis, HIV/AIDs, cancers, liver pathologies etc.
We later realized that most of these patients abandoned their treatment and failed to respect hospital appointments for fear of being subjected to the iterative process and financial expenditure, which was solely out-of-pocket. The consequences of these breaks in care range from deterioration of clinical states to complications (e.g. cerebrovascular accident in uncontrolled blood pressure) and even death.
Moreover, there are children, pregnant women and chronically-ill/bedridden elderly patients who reside in areas which are inaccessible during particular seasons of the year (such as the rainy season) and with health facilities. Besides, where health facilities exist, the cost of transportation from the communities to the facility site can be very high at times. Consequently, patients who required frequent visits to the hospital or prolonged hospitalisations chose to visit the health facilities only when their health conditions deteriorate and their clinical state becomes critical.
Amidst these barriers, some of these patients will prefer to suffer to the point of death in their homes or better still surrender their fate to the hands of charlatans or some traditional practitioners in their communities. These barriers to healthcare mostly affect the health outcome of vulnerable groups like children, pregnant women, physically challenged, orphans and the elderly.
Furthermore, research has revealed that the prevalence of hepatitis B infection in Cameroon is about 8%, almost twice that of HIV. Ironically, more than ¾ of our local population is ignorant about this infection which has very devastating complications but can be prevented via vaccination.
We therefore created this organisation in order to mitigate the barriers (geographical, financial, technical) to essential quality health care services; educate the population on common infectious and non-communicable disease; promote hygiene and sanitation and well-being (encourage proper nutrition and exercise and control substance misuse); prevent diseases (improve access to quality immunisation and use of bed nets); nurse the elderly and empower health personnel to deliver quality (compassionate care) and health facilities to deliver safe, effective and people-centred health services.
At the age of three, I noticed that my mother’s hands were paralysed and she could not grip anything or use them. I ran most of her errands. I wanted my mum to feed, bath and cloth me like my cousins’ mom did to them. As a child I could not understand my mother had become someone with a disability. She was not born like that, she just woke up one morning and found out that she could not use both hands.
So growing up for me as a young girl was hard. I was the one bathing and clothing my mother, instead of the reverse. In addition, we lived in a community with no health facility – 3 clans with more than 56 villages. The only hospital was in the divisional head quarter, which was more than 50km away. Villagers used to walk for at least 30km before accessing commercial transport vehicles, partly due to the bad state of roads. At the age of eight (8), I had severe malaria and had to experience this nightmare of walking such a long-distance walk to get healthcare. We had to sleep over at a relative’s house in a nearby village to rest because in my illness I could not endure the long walk. Access to healthcare was, and still is, a privilege to a few in my community. We have lost our love ones, like my mother and aunt, because they could not access healthcare from health facilities in a timely manner.
At this point I was determining as a young girl to change the narrative for my family and my community, but there were no opportunities at the time. After completing my first-degree program, my husband and I got married. My first pregnancy was a set of twins who died after a premature delivery, partly due to limited access to quality obstetric care. My husband, who is a Medical Doctor, could not help at the time because of ethical issues and limited access to specialised obstetric care. We reflected on our experiences from our communities, how we both lost our mothers to preventable and treatable diseases because of poverty and poor access to quality essential healthcare services. My husband’s experience as a physician serving in other rural communities in Cameroon was similar to that of our childhood.
It was at that moment we decided to do something to ameliorate people’s suffering and avert avoidable deaths. This led to the birth of FAVOUR LOWCOST HEALTHCARE FOUNDATION (FALCOH) in December 2014, and was legalised in June 2017. I then had to quit my job with another non-profit organisation in 2016 to become the vision bearer and CEO of FALCOH, my brain child.
THE CHANGE WE WANT, BEGINS WITH US