Voices from the Field Dennis & Nancy Palmer Get to know Dennis & Nancy

Planning in the Midst of Conflict

Published on February 14, 2019

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Dear Friends and Supporters,

We are still here working at Mbingo along with our missionary colleagues, the Bardins and Browns, and our many Cameroonian coworkers. The hospital remains secure but there is sporadic conflict all around. The hospital remains one of the only functioning facilities in the Region. We are just finishing a 10-day ‘ghost town’ where no travel is allowed. The separatists have blocked the roads around the hospital so that patients are not able to reach the hospital. Tomorrow the roads are supposed to be reopened and we are expecting that life will return to a more normal state.

We are planning on leaving the hospital tomorrow, if travel is safe, and go to the capital, Yaounde, for meetings with the Board of the Institute of Health Sciences and some government officials. At the end of February, we, along with Bardins and Browns, are planning a 10-day trip to Israel, led by one of our NAB pastors. We are all looking forward to the break. After that, Nancy and I are planning on spending about three months in the US, working on our retirement apartment and attending two conferences.

In the midst of all of the conflict, we continue to have opportunities to further develop the hospital and extend the care offered at Mbingo. We recently added a telepathology system which will help to relieve the workload on Dr. Bardin. When the hospital is running at capacity, the load of pathology is high. This system allows other pathologist to read the cases. We have also added EEG services and Elastography. This item is a diagnostic tool that is useful in diagnosing cirrhosis of the liver. Around 15% of patients in Cameroon are at risk for chronic liver disease. The early diagnosis of cirrhosis allows intervention to attempt to slow the progress to end stage disease with medications.

One of the great needs for the patients we care for at Mbingo is better cancer treatment. We have been working for some time with a team to develop radiation therapy. It is thought that a large majority of our cancer patients will benefit from access to this treatment. At present, there is only one machine in Douala serving the entire country. We are now at the stage where we are planning on building the “bunker” that will house a linear accelerator. This will be the first available in Cameroon. We have a used machine that has been donated for use here and the bunker design is nearing completion. Today, the hospital administration looked at the site where we plan to build the bunker. This is a difficult long-term process, but we think that it will benefit many patients and improve their chances of surviving this very difficult disease.

Finally, we want to thank all of you who have given to the NAB Crisis Relief Fund for Cameroon. Some of those funds have come to our hospital to help the patients who are unable to complete their hospital payment. These funds have been a big help and encouragement to those impacted by the political crisis here. For more information, visit https://nabconference.org/give/cameroon-crisis-relief.

Dennis and Nancy