On 7 July 2016 the DREAM center of Nkolondom in Yaounde received the Ambassador of Italy to Cameroon, Mrs. Samuela Isopi.
The ambassador visited the treatment center, which already has 450 patients in treatment, and the laboratory, which is one of the 3 laboratories in Yaounde credited for carrying out viral load analysis in the central and southern regions of the country. She then greeted the mothers and their children at the center. By now 70 pregnant women have been treated since 2015 and until now all of their children are healthy and free from the virus thanks to the treatment and prevention program. At the end of her visit, the ambassador met with a few representatives of the Community of Sant’Egidio from Yaounde and Douala.
In December 2014 activities began in the new « Centre DREAM Saint Joseph » in Nkolondom, a district of Djoungolo, in Yaoundé in Cameroon. The Nkolondom center is part of a medical center run by the Sisters of San Joseph of Girona, which also includes a maternity ward and a primary cure and health center for the child. The center was built in 2013 thanks to financing from Manos Unidas Andorra and meets the sanitary needs of the population of this suburb area of Yaoundé, where the prevalence of HIV in pregnant women is about 10%, while the closest sanitary structures are overloaded with sick patients. The structure will be able to provide the whole mother-child care assistance path thanks to the new maternity ward and clinics where vaccinations and pediatric care are already being given, and to the DREAM center which performs the prevention of the infection and offers HIV treatment and laboratory analysis necessary for monitoring. There are already 40 pregnant women who, resulting positive to the test, have been able to benefit from the diagnostic services of DREAM and the therapy.
This new DREAM center was created in collaboration between the Community of Sant’Egidio and the Sisters of San Joseph of Girona, as result of a friendship established in Spain and carried on through this center in Cameroon in favor of the suburb population.
In Cameroon the prevalence of the infection in pregnant women varies from 10% in the big cities, such as Douala and Yaoundé, to 4% in the most northern areas. The country has recently adopted Option B+ for the prevention of the mother-child transmission, even though problems with resupplying antiretrovirals have slowed its diffusion in the territory.
The DREAM program of the Community of Sant’Egidio is present in the country since 2008, with the DREAM center of Dschang, in the western region, which has more than 1300 patients in therapy. Also the DREAM center of Dschang was created thanks to the collaboration with a religious congregation, that of the Daughters of Charity, which has been present in the region for many years with the St. Vincent de Paul hospital. Patients come from across the whole region through word of mouth about the quality of the assistance and reception received; The mother-child prevention program is particularly known, and it has allowed more than 400 children to be born free of AIDS. Every year there is a celebration with all the children which undertake the last test of seropositivity exclusion, to which willingly participate family members and other patients, because it is good news and hope for everybody. Dschang is located in a mountainous area and it is often hard to reach the rural areas. In 2014, through support received from the Porticus foundation, it was possible to buy a car to increase the awareness outreach in villages and to perform home visits for the more fragile patients, including seropositive children (the center follows 70 children).
The DREAM Programme was presented on June 27th at the Cameroon Bishops’ Conference, gathered together in Yaounde for its plenary assembly.
It was an opportunity to talk in more detail about the Programme which had already been spoken of both when the Dschang DREAM centre, run in co-operation with the Daughters of Charity, was inaugurated and above all during Benedict XVI’s apostolic visit during which he met both operators and patients of the centre together with members of the Cameroon Church.
The presentation aroused much interest and was followed by many requests for collaboration on the part of various bishops and numerous religious congregations who would like to extend this type of service for AIDS patients to their own diocese or health care centres.
In fact in Cameroon treatment is guaranteed only if paid for and many patients cannot even begin the therapy while others are not able to afford to continue it after the initial phase.
Thus, the prospect outlined by DREAM is particularly welcome, giving hope both to those in need of treatment and to those who care about their welfare.
And the birth of the first healthy baby from the Dschang centre’s vertical prevention programme is a further sign that helps us to face the future with hope.
"DREAM! A dream become reality!". With these words, pope Benedict greeted the delegation of the Community of Sant’ Egidio at the conclusion of a meeting in Yaounde, in Cameroon, referring himself to the program of the Community for fighting AIDS in Africa.
Today, on the second day of his first visit to Africa, pope Benedict XVI met in Yaoundé in Cameroon a large delegation of the Community of Sant’Egidio, including the participants in the course for french-speaking Africa , accompanied by representatives of the Community of the Cameroon.
Guineans, congolese and cameroonese people joyfully welcomed the pope with songs and applauses. The meeting took place in the Nunciature where the Pope resides in these days, on the Febé Mount, that overlooks the town.
After having greeted affectionately the present, Benedict XVI told to have "talked about you during the journey and of your work against AIDS". "I know your work – continued – and all what you do. I pray for you. Pray for me too".
The participants in the course were introduced to the pope. He has been reported with the news and the success of the DREAM program in Africa, now implemented in 10 countries of the continent. A particular stress was given to the fact that the treatment is complete and free, true answer to the AIDS challenge. Treatment is also the true prevention.
Taking leave, the Pope addressed to all a goodwish greeting: "DREAM! A dream become reality!". The previous evening participants in the course together with the Community of the Cameroon had been greeting the pope on his arrival in Yaoundé with banners of welcome and songs at his passage.
Yesterday, during the flight towards the Cameroon, the Pope had praised the commitment against AIDS of many catholic organizations and had mentioned in particular Sant’Egidio.
|On the morning of 3 May, the inauguration of a new DREAM centre took place in Dschang, Cameroon, the first such centre in the country. The centre will be run by the Congregation of the Daughters of Charity in collaboration with the Community of Sant’Egidio.
Dschang is a city with nearly 100,000 residents, a significant hub in the province of Bafoussam, western Cameroon. Situated at an altitude of 1500 metres in a densely populated area, Dschang has been, since the beginning of the 1900s, a destination of many European missionaries, first German and later French. To this very day, there are quite a few religious congregations in the area.
|The Daughters of Charity arrived at the end of the sixties, first opening an orphanage and later a hospital (the one now actually hosting the DREAM centre), which has become the area’s leading medical institution, with departments of surgery, maternity and paediatrics.
The inauguration of the DREAM centre unfolded in the presence of the Bishop of Bafoussam, the Secretary-General of the Ministry of Health, and the local civil and health authorities, as well as many residents of Dschang. A substantial delegation from the Daughters of Charity was present, with members coming from the many provinces in the country.
|The bishop thanked the Community of Sant’Egidio and the Daughters of Charity for creating a centre of excellence for the treatment of AIDS and for vertical prevention. The centre will in fact take on the care of adults, pregnant women and children. It will be a reference centre for all of Cameroon, especially as regards vertical prevention, as emphasised by the Secretary-General of the Ministry of Health. Sr Wivine Kisu, General Councillor for Africa of the Congregation of the Daughters of Charity, who came for the opening from Paris, recalled the now long collaboration between the Congregation and Sant’Egidio in many African countries: Mozambique, Kenya, Nigeria, and Democratic Republic of Congo. This collaboration deals with both formation as well as management of the centres.|
|The representatives of the Community, for their part, emphasized the fact that Africa needs centres like the one just inaugurated, centres offering new hope to so many people living with HIV.|
In the second week of January, a DREAM delegation went to Cameroon to see to the finishing touches of works to complete the Dschang centre, in view of the imminent launch of its activities, most likely at the end of March 2008.
The construction of the centre premises has been completed. The next two months will be dedicated to refining the electricity plans and to equipping the centre and the laboratory.
Thus DREAM will open in Dschang, in the west of the country, near the Anglophone part, near the border with Nigeria, in what is a key township in a mountainous and very populated area, whose provincial capital is Bafoussam.
Implementation in this new setting of the prevention and treatment activities offered by DREAM, is possible thanks to the tried and tested collaboration with the Daughters of Charity, who will directly take care of the day-hospital, which is situated within a larger hospital structure also run by the Congregation.
The director of the future centre, Sr Laura, as well as the eight employees who will work there and two laboratory technicians, have been adequately trained in the course of recent months. The laboratory technicians in particular have gained experience in a three-month placement at the DREAM molecular biology laboratory in Conakry.
In Dschang, there is plenty of enthusiasm for the imminent launch of the centre’s activities. Both the sisters and the health workers are proud to work on this project which is geared towards protecting Africa’s future. The first patients to be treated will be pregnant women and their relatives.
In the context of its mission, the DREAM delegation also participated in meetings with leaders in the health sector, at local and well as national level, including the Health Minister.
These days also included an opportunity to meet the Justice Minister [see photo], together with those in charge of the service given in prison by the Community of Sant’Egidio in Cameroon. The Minister was informed about the conditions and problems of prisoners and about the work of the Community [see also news on the website www.santegidio.org, Official thanks for the activities of the Community in Tcholliré II prison]. The sisters, for their part, explained that DREAM can treat people with AIDS in Dschang prison. The Justice Minister expressed words of great esteem for the work of the Community and for the DREAM project.