According to Clinique Médicale Camassistance, 1,500 new cases of breast cancer occur each year in Cameroonian women and most of them are already at an advanced stage. Palliative care is not yet offered to all metastatic breast cancer (MBC) patients. To increase access to palliative care for MBC patients, Clinique Médicale Camassistance has established a holistic palliative care programme which includes the training of health professionals, social workers and traditional healers in palliative care.
Clinique Médicale Camassistance has worked in cancer care in Cameroon since 1995 and has a long history of caring for Cameroonian women with breast cancer.
“With SPARC, our organisation is now a reference for breast cancer patients. Our health professionals, new collaborations and increased network have changed our skills, capacities and vision for the future. We now have to extend these skills to the most rural areas in Cameroon.”
With their project “Strengthening palliative care services for patients with metastatic breast cancer in Cameroon”, Clinique Médicale Camassistance was awarded a SPARC MBC Challenge grant in 2017. Their goal was to establish a palliative care programme for Cameroonian women with MBC.
The palliative care programme trained healthcare workers to provide MBC patients with psychosocial support and guidance on how to access treatment, improved adherence to treatment for those receiving treatment and palliative care. Patients receive assistance at the clinic or, for those who cannot travel to the clinic, in their homes. Healthcare workers who provide homecare also follow-up with patients on the phone.
In the first year of the programme, 156 people were trained in palliative care, including community health professionals, social workers and traditional healers. During the SPARC project, 122 MBC patients have directly received palliative care support through Clinique Médicale Camassistance. In addition, 20 of them have begun chemotherapy via the new in-patient service. Patients unable to travel to the clinic are sent information materials through mobile technology (WhatsApp messages and videos on palliative care). Where possible, transportation to the clinic and home visits were arranged. Additionally, collaborations with local institutions enabled Clinique Médicale Camassistance to purchase liquid morphine at a discounted price.
In parallel to the palliative care programme, the clinic’s early detection programme was enhanced with a daily screening of breast and cervical cancer at a low cost. In the future, Clinique Médicale Camassistance would like to reach more patients in rural Cameroon by training health professionals from rural areas.
(Information from the project description and context is compiled from the SPARC reports)