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Banso 2016 PDF Print E-mail

Paul Wharin   Cameroon Nov. 14th to 24th, 2016


This was my 18th visit to the 3 hospitals of the Cameroon Baptist Convention Heath Service.  Prof Peter Hesseling and I were accompanied on this trip by Prof Mariana Kruger, the present head of paediatrics and child health at Stellenbosch University, S. Africa and Tygerberg Hospital, Cape Town. Mariana is an expert on the eye cancer, retinoblastoma and reviewed the files/notes of all children treated under our programme at Mbingo Baptist Hospital. She will suggest ways to improve outcomes.  For the first time we flew inside Cameroon, south to north and then finally at the end of our trip north to south – thus saving 2 whole days on the road and giving 2 more days working time!  Our aim as always is to encourage our Cameroonian colleagues, doctors and nurses who do all the “hands-on” work.  We know and celebrate their mission statement:  “….to provide exemplary care….as an expression of Christian love…and as a means of evangelical witness”.

Cessna 5-seater from Douala to Banso: one and a half hours

– as opposed to a whole day on the road!!


Mutengene Baptist Hospital (BHM),  S.W.Cameroon       Nov 15th to 17th

16.11.16     This morning I met a boy called Raymond aged 18 months: he is receiving chemotherapy for the eye cancer, retinoblastoma – and is doing well. Raymond and his mother are pygmies from the Baka people of S.E.Cameroon. They are genetically one of the most ancient people groups in Africa, second only to the bushmen of the Kalahari. Raymond was found by 2 Catholic sisters who had heard that treatment for this cancer was freely available at Mbingo Baptist Hospital, N.W.Cameroon. They arrived at Mbingo only to find that the ophthalmic surgeon was away and so came all the way south to Mutengene. Raymond and his parents have little money even for food and are being supported by the congregation of a local Baptist church. The BHM ophthalmic surgeon, Dr Emmanuel  Tambe makes no charge for surgical treatment  and our charity (BTMAT) provides the chemotherapy drugs. I find this a remarkable story of Christian compassion at work – and of advocacy for our programme.  How did the Catholic sisters know about our work? – and what loving care to bring this child and his mother more than 400 miles to Mutengene – not an easy journey in subSaharan Africa!


Prof Hesseling, Raymond and his mother, Prof Kruger


Banso Baptist Hospital   Nov.17th to 19th

18.11.16        We travelled to Ntaba today, a large village near the Nigerian border to visit one of our parent groups. The leader, Paul Tanwarong had invited a prominent local village practitioner/bush doctor (described by Paul as a “sorcerer”) to meet us. We asked questions about his practice and he told us that his most frequent diagnosis is “witchcraft”. Some of our Baptist medical colleagues will have nothing to do with these men but their “professional” organisation is recognised by the government and they are all men of standing in their communities, their “skills” being passed from father to son. We prefer to get alongside, to educate and show them that there is a better way – though we have to confess that we cannot always cure even with our “powerful” medicine. I asked him to please send any pekin (child) with “big face” or “big belly” to Banso Baptist Hospital.

At Ntaba village     In the centre: the village practitioner (red shirt), Prof Hesseling (with stick) and Paul Tanwarong

Mbingo Baptist Hospital (MBH)    Nov 19th to 23rd

Many people have asked about the “We Care” Parent home. The roof is on and windows and door frames about to be fitted. It was last May whilst in Cameroon that I received an email from the Good News Evangelical Foundation granting £15000 towards the construction of this building. I showed the email to Joe Dixon, Programmes Manager of the charity, World Child Cancer who immediately offered to match this. We have full funding for this building, praise God!  Mothers of children admitted for the induction phase of cancer treatment will now have accommodation- with outside firewood cooking facilities, African style.  Our children will be able to leave the ward and join mother between chemotherapies thus reducing bed occupancy on the ward and thereby our costs.

"We Care" Parent Hostel for mothers of children with cancer at MBH


Thank you to all who have supported me (and Beryl Thyer Memorial Africa Trust, BTMAT) over the last 10 years – and thank you to all who prayed for ”travelling mercies” during this last trip.

Paul Wharin                       November 2016

Last Updated on Saturday, 24 December 2016 22:25
Cameroon 2015 PDF Print E-mail

Cameroon, Nov. 14th to 27th, 2015

This was my 17th trip to Cameroon.  I travelled with Prof Peter Hesseling from Stellenbosch University, S. Africa. We visited the 3 Cameroon Baptist Convention (CBC) hospitals (Banso, Mbingo and Mutengene) in which our childrens cancer treatment service is based. I have been told repeatedly that it is impossible to treat children with cancer effectively in an African resource limited setting. I am reminded again and again of the words of Rev. Moses Tanni (quoting William Carey) when I first went to Cameroon in 2007: “Dr Paul, we expect great things from God; we will attempt great things for God”.

Rather than writing a long report I have again provided excerpts of 3 emails:

17th November Safe transit through Paris I received a phone call at 1.15am on Saturday morning (14th) from a colleague who works with Child Advocacy International in N.W.Cameroon. She said “Did you know that the French borders are closed? I have cancelled my flight”. Despite this I decided to go - leaving the house at 3.15am. All was peaceful at Paris, Charles de Gaulle airport. Thank you to all who prayed. I am now at Mbingo Baptist Hospital. There is much good news. We have permission to proceed with the building of a parents home.  The plans have been approved and costed. Land was given earlier this year by the CBC hospital board and foundations will be laid in January. At present the mother of a child receiving chemotherapy must camp out in the hospital grounds (for 2 to 4+ weeks) – perhaps with other children to care for! This building will make a great difference, even reducing our bed occupancy costs – because a child who is well between chemotherapies will be able to leave the ward and join mother in the parent home.

Land donated for the Parent Home. Prof. Hesseling in the distance.


19th November A visit to SAJOCAH: Saint Joseph’s Children and Adults Home

On the right: sister Victorine at SAJOCAH with Carol Clegg's doll

In our experience about 8% of children with Burkitt’s lymphoma present with paraplegia: a weakness or paralysis of the lower limbs sometimes accompanied by incontinence of urine. This is caused by a Burkitt’s tumour pressing on the spinal cord. Our powerful chemotherapy drugs simply dissolve the tumour. Some children make a rapid and complete recovery but where permanent nerve damage has been caused by tumour pressure the child may be left with residual lower limb weakness/paralysis (and incontinence of urine) even though we have cured the cancer.

We have found a wonderful asset in SAJOCAH, the Catholic Rehabilitation Centre in N.W. Cameroon. They have expert and dedicated physiotherapists, programmes to help a child overcome incontinence and workshops making calipers and prosthetic limbs. Children in an African village suffering with lower limb paralysis and incontinence are often cared for by people other than their parents. They become isolated and neglected. They develop bed sores and waste away.  We have referred 3 children to SAJOCAH. Our children have found others with worse disabilities than their own. They realize that they are not alone: their isolation and rejection ends. 2 of these children are walking again and are back at school. Our charity (BTMAT ) has paid for their treatment – it is money well spent!

Dr Stone

Dr Julie Stone serving with North American Baptist (NAB) mission

23rd November Some clinical work at Banso – at last

I joined the single lone missionary doctor, Julie Stone on a round of the childrens ward this morning. Julie serves with the North American Baptist (NAB) mission and is supported by her home churches in the USA.  There were only 3 children on the Burkitt ward. One of these, a boy aged 7 years had a severe inflammation of his mouth and gullet (mucositis) caused by intravenous methotrexate given in the treatment of advanced Burkitt’s lymphoma. He had almost certainly vomited (in the night) the folinic acid tablets given to prevent this toxic effect. The extreme soreness of mouth and gullet in this condition merits the use of morphine. We strive to avoid such toxic effects of our chemotherapy drugs. Last year I attended a childrens cancer (SIOP) conference in Tanzania. A Nigerian doctor presented (very honestly) a series of 80 patients treated for Burkitt’s lymphoma with a rate of toxic effects nearing 10% of patients treated. We have treated 1000 children with Burkitt’s lymphoma with significant toxic effects in less than 2% of these children. We analyse every case in retrospect so as to improve our performance. It is a reminder that all our chemotherapy drugs are dangerous: if we give too high a dose we may kill the child. Our doctors and nurses adhere to a strict protocol designed to avoid such toxic effects.

As the Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Board mission statement says: we strive “to give exemplary care… as an expression of Christian love …and a means of evangelical witness” – but we do this in a resource-limited mission hospital setting! Not easy!

Paul Wharin Dec. 2015




Last Updated on Saturday, 19 December 2015 10:08
Take pekin for Baptist hospital PDF Print E-mail

We now have treatment programmes at the 3 Baptist hospitals of Western Cameroon for four child cancers: Burkitt’s lymphoma, the most common cancer and Wilms tumour (protocols designed by Prof P.Hesseling) and also more recently retinoblastoma and Kaposi sarcoma. BTMAT supplies the drugs and pays the in-patient treatment costs of these children.


Of equal importance to the hospital treatment programmes is outreach to the rural community where there is little or no concept of “cancer”. We have explained before that children are often taken first to the village practitioner (bush doctor) who will usually make the diagnosis of “witchcraft”, this being considered HIS area of expertise. The child may never reach one of our hospitals or will present with very advanced disease.

Our research assistant nurses (RANs) play a major role in education and outreach to the community. They regularly visit village clinics to teach medical staff who may have little knowledge of the early signs of cancer. This is particularly important for retinoblastoma, the eye cancer where the early signs (an opaque pupil or new squint) are easily recognised and prompt treatment may save the child’s sight – not only their life! Our nurses often find a captive audience of waiting patients and speak to them in pidgin English. They have visited and respectfully addressed village practitioners. Local church and regional denominational meetings especially women’s meetings have provided opportunities to teach on child cancer. Talks have been broadcast on local radio on World Child Cancer Day, 2013 and 2014.

RAN Comfort Kimbi (MBH) teaching village leaders about Burkitt's lymphoma

The RANs take every opportunity to make known the availability of our child cancer treatment programmes and also the early warning signs of child cancer. Our message (in pidgin) is:


“This sick be not witchcraft: take pekin for Baptist hospital”


Paul Wharin   Aug. 2014