Ambanibe Jerome Akeneck is leading the creation a management and training centre in Cameroon which will focus on three main areas;
- Epilepsy management, training and research
- Mental health management, training and research
- Health research and consultancy in other health disciplines
The team will initially be composed of 18 specialists including psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, neurologists, general practitioners, clinical psychologists, infectious disease specialists, social workers, and occupational therapists.
The centre will work in synergy with hospitals, universities, research institutions and communities to help identify and manage people with epilepsy and other mental health conditions. This work will also support faith based local organizations to increase their capacity. The centre will organise seminars, workshops, focus group discussions and develop training packages and presentations.
This new initiative will provide ‘a voice’ for people with epilepsy, autism and mental health conditions, and their families. This will help in increasing awareness and reducing the stigma that is associated with these conditions to the whole community and beyond. Unfortunately many people living with epilepsy are hidden from the wider community, often living in more rural parts of the country, and although people’s understanding of these conditions is increasing there is still much more work to be done.
The centre will provide essential training for nurses, laboratory technicians and health support staff. These health care professionals (HCPs) will be identified, trained and provided with ongoing regular contact and support. This will allow for the development of a network where HCPs can discuss successes as well as problems they face. This will hopefully encourage and motivate HCPs to talk to others and thus be advocates for people living with epilepsy and mental health disorders. It is hoped that policies and guidelines will be informed by this work and provision for these conditions will be implemented at the primary health care level. This model could then be used in not only other parts of Cameroon, but regions in central and West Africa in the next 5 to 10 years.
Research is an important focus of the centre as we need to determine the aetiology of epilepsy, autism and mental health disorders in Cameroon. A biomedical laboratory will be part of the centre and this will be instrumental in increasing scientific research in the area. In order to make this venture scheme succeed, partners and collaborators need to be identified. As the skills set of the laboratory grows we will be able to collect samples, perform relevant assays, collate data, coordinate paperwork and facilitate sending samples to other parts of the world. Please contact us if you think this endeavour would be of interest to you.
With the help and support of organisations such as International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE), World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) and International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers (IAMAT), we hope the centre will thrive and make a significant contribution in changing the lives of many people.