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Saving Young Lives in Cameroon

I just returned from the AFRAN/AFPNA Congress that took place in Yaoundé, Cameroon last week. I was proud to be part of this amazing event gathering more than 300 delegates at Africa’s not-to-missed biennial nephrology meeting. It showed the importance of gathering our developing nephrology communities in Africa, to exchange valuable knowledge, experience and science amongst fellow colleagues.

The activities from Saving Young Lives (SYL)stood out during the meeting. This important partnership between ISN, the International Pediatric Nephrology Association, the International Society of Peritoneal Dialysis and EUROPD aims to start sustainable peritoneal dialysis (PD) programs to treat children and young adults with acute kidney injury (AKI) in low-resource settings. We started off with three sites in Africa, and now after five years of work, 14 sites have enrolled in the initiative and are at different stages of development, showing their very own set of challenges.

During the congress, we organized a successful practical training on PD, thanks to our host at the General Hospital of Yaoundé, Gloria Ashuntangtang. There were more than 40 participants, not only from Cameroon but from neighboring countries. Pairs of nurses and physicians learned how to insert and improvise catheter insertion at the bedside, both for adults and children.

Pictured above: (from left to right) Francois Kaze (Professor of Nephrology, Yaoundé), David Harris (ISN President Elect), Mignon Mc Culloch (IPNA Councillor) Andre Mama Fouda (Minister of Health, Cameroon), Shiro Koulla (Permanent Secretary Minister of Health, Cameroon) William Smoyer (IPNA Councillor), Gloria Ashuntantang (AFRAN President) and Emmanuel Maina (Director of Cooperation Ministry of Health)

Two sessions were dedicated to presenting the results of our project. We invited several of our site leaders to come and present their work. I am proud to see that these experiences have inspired others, by talking with peers and seeing that, even with limited resources, and some creativity, PD can work!

The experience at the Mbingo hospital in the north of Cameroon, near the town of Bamenda, was an eye opener for many. With the support of a Baptist community from the US, they managed to set up a successful PD program, with an initial donation of supplies from our partners from the Sustainable Kidney Care foundation. They are now making their own PD solutions and treating patients at low cost and with very successful outcomes. A partnership to develop PD for AKI between the Mbingo hospital and the University of Yaoundé is currently being developed.

Four global nephrology societies have demonstrated that they could work together and make a difference in Africa through training, education, building confidence in finding local solutions and creating a network of peers to develop treatment options for AKI.

Thanks to the great work of incoming AFRAN President Gloria Ashuntantang, an ISN/ SYL delegation had to opportunity to hold a very constructive meeting with the Minister of Health in Cameroon. We definitely congratulated him for subsidising hemodialysis and now strongly encouraged him to consider acute peritoneal dialysis for AKI in children and adults.

Exciting future for AKI treatment with all parties collaborating within Cameroon!

The saving Young Lives project is still looking to expand to other sites – and in other regions- and needs your help in supporting the set-up phase of the projects. We send an initial donation of catheters and fluids so that the centers can start building expertise and develop their service. The aim is that they become sustainable after two years.

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