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Corruption, Inhuman Treatment Scandal Rock Buea Regional Hospital 

By Isidore Abah

Persons living with HIV/AIDSin Buea have decried the unbridled corruption and inhuman treatment rocking the Buea Regional Hospital.
Grouped under the umbrella of Hope is Rising Association, HIRASO, an organisation of people living with HIV/AIDS in Buea, the members vented their frustration at the rampant extortion of money and the callous treatment given to them by nurses and healthcare workers of the hospital.

The membersof HIRASO were speaking in Buea on February 5, while receiving grants from Reach Out Cameroon in partnership with the African Women Development Bank.
According to the President of HIRASO, Yvonne Menyeng, unlike in other hospitals in Cameroon where HIV patients go to the hospital once in three months for their antiretroviral drugs, the management of the Buea Regional Hospital has instituted a monthly programme.

The monthly programme, she said, is not only time wasting and expensive, but has made some of them to lose their jobs. She recounted how a student in an examination class was prevented from writing her final exams by a nurse, who insisted that the student must wait at the hospital, despite having collected her antiretroviral drugs.

Meyeng also asserted that the nurses demand FCFA 200 before handing over their antiretroviral. She added that a patient risks going back home without the medication, if he or she fails to dole out the money. This practice of asking money before handing over medication, she maintained, only prevails in Buea because, elsewhere, antiretroviral drugs are given free.

The most dehumanising factor at the Buea Regional Hospital, the HIRASO President said, is that the healthcare workers treat them with scorn and disdain. She recounted an incident where one of the nurses shouted at some HIRASO members who were standing outside, because the hall that was allocated to them was too small to contain all of them. The nurse, Menyeng said, referred to them as AIDS patients.

“This is the worse form of stigmatisation,” she stated. After listening to the plights of HIRASO members, the Executive Director of Reach Out Cameroon, Esther Omam Njomo, condemned the inhuman treatment and promised to lead a delegation to the hospital authorities.

Handing over the grants to the beneficiaries, Omam Njomo exhorted them to either use them to open up new businesses or expand existing ones. This, she said, will provide them transportation to go to the hospital, provide for their families, enable them feed well and give them some financial and economic autonomy.

Omam thanked the African Women Development Bank for putting smiles on the faces of people living with HIV/AIDS and prayed that the fruitful cooperation between Reach Out Cameroon and the African Women Development Bank should continue.
Meanwhile, the 4thAssistant Mayor of Buea Council, Comfort Ojongoot, the Regional Delegate of Women Empowerment and the Family, Judith Mofa, the Representatives of the DO, Delegate of Social Affairs and District Medical Officer all thanked the members of HIRASO for coming under one canopy and for speaking out against corruption, discrimination and stigmatisation.

They promised to lead a delegation to the Buea Regional Hospital to see the Director of the hospital for a lasting solution. The women were also advised to make judicious use of the grants.
The members of HIRASO thanked Reach Out Cameroon and the African Women Development Bank for removing them out of their economic and financial doldrums and for giving them reasons to smile again. They pledged to use the money only for the purpose for which it is intended. They appealed to other organisations to emulate the example of Reach Out Cameroon and the African Women Development Bank.

The African Women Development Bank has made available FCFA 4.2 million to be distributed to 47 women living with HIV/AIDS in the Southwest Region. A similar exercise would be carried out in Kumba and EkondoTiti.

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