Wednesday, December 24, 2008


By James Achanyi-Fontem, Cameroon Link
30 members of the Federation of Cameroon Breastfeeding Promotion Associations, FECABPA, were hosted in a five-day long infant and young child feeding counselling workshop at Obala, some 100 kms from Yaounde, capital of Cameroon from the 25th to 29th November, 2008. The training was gender oriented as it grouped men and women breastfeeding counsellors from four regions of Cameroon.
The workshop organized by the department for health promotion at the ministry of public health was to up date FECABPA members on the most recent adequate counselling techniques of pregnant and lactating mothers within the health centres and community settings.
Introducing the subject, the Director for Health Promotion, Daniel Sibetcheu, said before learning to assist mothers, the nutrition counsellors needed to understand why breastfeeding is important and its advantages. As such, the workshop participants were taught the existing differences between breastmilk, artificial feeding and the dangers of using artificial baby foods.
Colostrum was described as the yellowish special milk that is produced in the mother’s breast during the first days after delivery. It is thick in quality. This is followed by whitish mature milk a few days later. The mature milk is produced in large quantities and the breasts look full, hard and heavy.
Colostrum is rich inn anti-bodies that protect the baby against infections. It has purgative ingredients that eliminate meconium from the baby’s stomach and prevents the child from having pains. Colostrums also has growth factors that assist in the maturation of the baby’s intestines and prevent the child from allergies and intolerance. It is also rich in vitamin A that reduces the gravity of infections and prevents the baby from eye diseases.
Breastfeeding has psychological advantages which establish affective relationship between the mother and the baby, which results to emotional satisfaction. Direct contact immediately after delivery facilitates the instauration of this relation known as mother and baby attachment.
Generally, babies that are breastfed cry less and growth is rapid especially when the baby remains in contact with the mother and is breastfed immediately after delivery. Lactating mothers are very affective, less stressful and attentive to the needs of her baby. Some studies have shown that breastfeeding contributes to the development of the brain of the child and this develops the child’s intellectual aptitudes.
The sub director for food and nutrition at the ministry of public health, Okala Georges, addressed issues related to the anatomy of the breast and physiology of lactation, while Andre Aggee Ntonga, who heads the breastfeeding promotion service, presented the biochemical composition and immunology of human milk in comparison to cow’s milk.
Tata Japhet emphasized on the importance of baby positioning and evaluation of the baby’s suckles. Answering questions on the mothers in difficulties who cannot exclusively breastfeed, Okala Georges advised on milk expression and conservation for the baby.
Lecturing on communication for behaviour change, it was said, that mothers can successfully be taken through the stages of ignorance, sensitisation, consideration, intention, trial, adoption, sustenance and sharing of ideas with other mothers. Okala George revealed that it is at the last stage that one can assess the behaviour changes that have taken place. To achieve this, the nutrition counsellor would have developed skills of information, persuasion, encouragement and negotiation, discussion on the advantages of breastmilk, support and appreciation.
The workshop participants were guided on the production of 2009 activity sheets indicating tasks to be accomplished in the year 2009 in their respective jurisdictions. Organisations that took part in the training were Cameroon Link, NOLFOWOP, CIFAS, GMICOSADE, Step Ministry, UFAPROD-MFOU, AFFE, CAFOW, NKA’AH WOMEN, COGESID, ASSF, and Alternative Sante. These groups are located in Douala, Yaounde, Bafia, Mfou, Mbalmayo, and Bamenda.
The training delivered by top level nutritionists and heads of services under the department for health promotion at the ministry of public health, ended with the handing over of attestations to the FECABPA Nutrition Counsellors.
During the WABA Global Breastfeeding Partners Meeting,GBPM VII 2008 in Penang, Malaysia, the message remained very clear that we should promote and support exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and continued breastfeeding with giving of other foods and drinks up to 24 months and beyond.
The use of locally available family foods appropriately prepared and fed to the children is encouraged. It is recalled here that complementary feeding cannot exist without adequate breastfeeding, especially as breastfeeding contributes about 75% of the energy requirements fro children 6 - 8 months, 50% at 9 - 11 months and 40% at 12 - 24 months, according to infant and young feeding specialists.
Breastmilk is thus a major provider of protein, vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and protective factors. With this, it can be concluded that complementary foods should add to the nutritional needs of infants as contribution to breastmilk instead of replacing it.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Breastfeeding Wins Over Risks of Environmental Chemical Exposure

Breastfeeding beats Risk of Infant Environmental Chemical Exposure in Breastmilk
According to a release from New Rochelle, New York in the United States of America on December 16, 2008, a study comparing breastfed and formula fed infants across time showed that the known beneficial effects of breastfeeding are greater than the potential risks associated with infant exposure to chemicals such as dioxins that may be present in breastmilk. The report published in the December issue (Volume 3, Number 4) of Breastfeeding Medicine, a peer-reviewed journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. ( and the official journal of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine confirm this information.
This compelling study, entitled “The Heart of the Matter on breastmilk and Environmental Chemicals: Essential Points for Health Care Providers and New Parents,” encompassed an historical review of the medical literature and included time periods when levels of environmental chemicals were higher than they tend to be at present.
The authors of the report, Judy LaKind, PhD (LaKind Associates, Catonsville, MD), Cheston Berlin, Jr, MD (The Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, PA), and CAPT Donald Mattison, MD (National Institutes of Health), advise health care providers to continue to encourage new mothers to breastfeed their babies. In agreement with the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) continuing support of breastfeeding, this study’s findings, based on epidemiologic data, do not downplay the adverse effects of exposure to dioxins and other environmental toxins. However, the authors distinguish between the statistical significance of risk/benefit assessments in an individual compared to population effects.
“When breastmilk was chosen by regulatory agencies as a handy medium for measuring environmental toxins, the public became alarmed that breastmilk was contaminated. The authors, eminent authorities on the subject have put these fears to rest,” says Ruth A. Lawrence, MD, Editor-in-Chief of Breastfeeding Medicine, from the Department of Pediatrics, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.
For more information, please contact: Vicki Cohn, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., (914) 740-2100, ext. 2156,

Vitamin D Deficiency in Infants and Nursing Mothers Carries
Long-Term Disease Risks

It has been discovered that Vitamin D Deficiency in infants and nursing mothers carries long-term disease risks. This was revealed in Breastfeeding Medicine published by Mary Ann Liebert in New Rochelle, New York on December 16, 2008. Once believed to be important only for bone health, vitamin D is now seen as having a critical function in maintaining the immune system throughout life. The newly recognized disease risks associated with vitamin D deficiency are clearly documented in a report in the December issue (Volume 3, Number 4) of Breastfeeding Medicine, a peer-reviewed journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. (, and the official journal of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (
Vitamin D deficiency is common across populations and particularly among people with darker skin. Nutritional rickets among nursing infants whose mothers have insufficient levels of vitamin D is an increasingly common, yet preventable disorder.
Carol Wagner, MD, Sarah Taylor, MD, and Bruce Hollis, PhD, from the Department of Pediatrics, Medical University of South Carolina (Charleston), emphasize the need for clinical studies to determine the dose of vitamin D needed to achieve adequate vitamin D levels in breastfeeding mothers and their infants without toxicity.
In a paper entitled, “Does Vitamin D Make the World Go ‘Round’?” the authors point out that vitamin D is now viewed not simply as a vitamin with a role in promoting bone health, but as a complex hormone that helps to regulate immune system function. Long-term vitamin D deficiency has been linked to immune disorders such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, type I diabetes, and cancer.
“Vitamin D is a hormone not a vitamin and it is not just for kids anymore,” writes Ruth A. Lawrence, MD, Editor-in-Chief of Breastfeeding Medicine, from the Department of Pediatrics, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, in an accompanying editorial. “Perhaps the most startling information is that adults are commonly deficit in modern society. Vitamin D is now recognized as a pivotal hormone in the human immune system, a role far beyond the prevention of rickets, as pointed out in the article by Wagner et al in this month’s issue of Breastfeeding Medicine.”
For more information, please contact: Vicki Cohn, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., (914) 740-2100, ext. 2156,

Friday, December 12, 2008

Sickle Cell Society UK Director Visits Cameroon

Sickle Cell Society UK Director Visits Cameroon
By James Achanyi-Fontem, Cameroon Link
The Director of Sickle Cell Society, UK, Dr. Asaah Nkohkwo, undertakes a two-week long, working visit to Cameroon from Monday, December 15. During the visit, Dr. Nkohkwo will meet with top level officials in the public and private sectors to discuss the road map of the Sickle Cell Society UK for support to Sickle Cell Awareness activities in Cameroon from 2009.
A Sickle Cell Disorder is an inherited blood condition that affects the haemoglobin of the red blood cells. Haemoglobin is a special substance that colours the blood red and is responsible for carrying oxygen around the body.
Sickle Cell Disorder may have a disruptive influence on the educational needs of the school child, and this has implications for teachers, parents, families, communities and also for the child with this condition. The Sickle Cell Society UK intervention in Cameroon aims at alleviating the sufferings of bearers and is part of a regional plan of action to cover four West African countries between 2009 and 2015.
The awareness campaign to be launched in Cameroon from 2009 is supported by the Ministry of Public Health and other international and national organisations.
Dr. Asaah Nkohkwo gives a press conference on his current visit at the head quarters of Cameroon Link in the Bonaberi-Douala neighbour on Wednesday, December 17 at 15h30.
He would also be talking about the first-ever three-month long, Commonwealth Awards Holders training hosted by the London-based Sickle Cell Society recently with the participation of three Cameroonians from the Fine Forest Foundation-Cameroon.
For more information click on the following links. Website: ;

Many Persons In Uk Do Not Know They Are HIV+

21,000 Persons In Britain Don’t Know They Are HIV+
James Achanyi-Fontem

More than a quarter of HIV sufferers in Britain are unaware they have the deadly virus. The figures are estimated at 21.000 people who do not know they are HIV positive, according to the Metro Newspaper published on 26 November, 2008.
The source indicated that the number of people who have contracted the disease rose by six per cent in 2007 to 77.400. But 28 per cent of them did not know they had it, the Health Protection agency revealed. “Not only is this dangerous to their own health, but they are more likely to pass the virus on than someone who has been diagnosed”, Lisa Power of the Terrence Higgins Trust said.
Of those who tested positive in 2007, 31 per cent equivalent of 2.300, were diagnosed late and were less likely to respond to treatment. Voluntary testing and early diagnosis of HIV/AIDS would lower the rate from the current two per cent to 0.1 per cent world wide, according to the World Health organization.
Dr. Valerie Delpech made it known that the Health Protection Agency was pushing for an expansion of HIV testing, especially in high prevalence areas such as Central London. “Diagnosing HIV infections earlier reduce transmission of this infection as those unaware of their positive status pose a greater risk to future sexual partners.
Alomost 500 people in Britain died of AIDS in 2007. The two most at-risk groups were black African heterosexuals and gay men. The number of persons seeking treatment has tripled since 1998.

WABA Regional Snap Shot

Family planning Enforced with Liberation of The Pill
By James Achanyi-Fontem
The contraceptive pill will be available from chemists without a prescription in Britain from this year 2009. This was disclosed by the Department of Health last December 9. In effect, women will be able to have a private consultation with a pharmacist before obtaining the contraceptive free.
Through the new rule, pharmacists could eventually be granted the right to give the Pill to girls under 16 without their parents’ consent. On the announcement of the decision, family planners have warned there is no evidence that makingn the Pill available from chemists would cut unplanned pregnancies, and said it could lead to more sexually transmitted infections.
Two primary care trusts in London will act as pilot sites to see if the scheme is suitable for all. Four million women in England are using the Pill already, but this was available only with a prescription. It believed that if the pilots are successful, it could be put on the same footing as the Morning-After Pill, which is already available at pharmacies without a doctor’s signature.
Though the department of health says, it is all about improving access to contraceptive services, the director of Family and Youth Concern, Norman Wells thinks, this is just promoting a casual approach to sex.
Dr. Wells adds, that this will result in more underage sex, more teenage pregnancies, more abortions and more sexually transmitted infections. On the other hand, sexual health charities have welcomed the move, saying women wanted to get their contraception at a time and place convenient to them and without delay.
The pilot primary care trusts engaged are Lewisham and Southwark. It has been observed that Britain has the highest teenage birth rate in Western Europe. In England, 7.462 girls under 16 fell pregnant in 2005 compared to 39.683 under 18s in the same year.
The Pill issue is not unconnected to the snap shot on 14-year-old girls who are forced to have sex in the UK. According to statistics from the Department for Children, Schools and Families, one out of four girls are hit by boyfriends. The same report reveals that a quarter of 14-year-old girls have been forced to engage in sexual practices according to new research.
The girls’ boyfriends do not only hit them, but hurt them and humiliate the girls in front of others. An online survey by teen magazine Bliss found that half those questioned had had their mobiles or emails checked, or been told not to go somewhere.
The Chief Executive of women’s Aid, Nicola Harwin regretted the fact that 25 per cent of 14- year-olds have been forced or coerced into sex and that the girls admitted it. She added, that there was a lack of awareness about the issue because there was a “notion” that possession and jealousy were “romantic”.
Ms. Harwin said, “You don’t know if you’re the only person it’s happening to or whether it’s what relationships are about. British Home Office reported in June 2008, that domestic violence among teenagers was significant. The Department for children, Schools and Families intends to introduce compulsory lessons in relationships in British secondary schools as a solution.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Budget As Tool For Allocating Resources
James Achanyi-Fontem
A London accounting expert, Mrs. Ngechop Yvonne Claire Ndifor, has described a budget as tool for allocating resources. She was presenting a lecture on budgeting for growth and book keeping to managers of Fine Forest Foundation Cameroon at the Sickle Cell Society on the 20th November 2008 within the frame work of a Commonwealth Professional Fellowship Grant.
In her lecture, Mrs. Ngechop Yvonne elaborated on the objective of a budget, the reason why a budget should aim at the growth of an organization and why book keeping is necessary for evaluation. She explained that a budget should be able to depict what the organization expects to spend and earn over a period of time.
She added that a budget could reflect the financial representation of an organization’s mission and also strategic goals. It is a tool for allocating resources and implementing strategic plans and serves as an indicator for evaluating performance, she observed. The expenses and revenue of a budget should be traceable, since it is used for evaluating performance and it should reflect the growth of the organization.
To highlight the importance of budgeting within an organization, Mrs. Ngechop explained that budgeting is about planning, because this is crucial for the production of desired results. The hidden agenda of all budgeting is to save money upfront for both the known and unknown expenses.
Emphasizing on the benefits of budgeting to an organization, she revealed that through budgeting the organization can exhibit what is going on. A budget is to help in control of activities after facilitating the execution of the organization’s plan of action. Budgets also lead to fluid communication amongst stakeholders and staff. Often, managers take advantage of opportunities to gain extra time in service delivery and save money.
There are five typical steps in elaborating a budget which include:
 Setting goals that perform strategic plan
 Establishing objectives for identification of programmes and activities to accomplish set goals.
 Designing programmes that show the method for updating the goals
 Preparing a budget and approving revenues in a quantitative manner as well as expenditure based upon forecast.
 Monitoring progress and comparing actual expenses with budget amounts to establish variances where there is.
 There are also three types of budgets:
 Production budget,
 Sales budget and
 Project budget.
 In the case of voluntary and charitable organizations, activities are budgeted separately and it is with the diiferent budgets that a combined budget of the organization emerges. Mrs. Ngechop concluded that in administrating finances, the budget is different from cash flow. When addressing cash flow, we talk about the actual expenditure and income.

Cameroon Commonwealth Fellows End Training In London

Quality Management Training For FFF Cameroon In London
By James Achanyi-Fontem
An assurance and control management training under the supervision of consultants of Sickle Cell Society in London, UK with three top level managers participating has ended. The overall aim of the training was to provide the trainees with on-the-job best practice exposure that could build and enhance their capacity in terms of the provision of value-for-money sustainability and responsive community-led NGO management while back in Cameroon..
Commenting on course content, the Director of Suckle Cell Society, UK, Dr. Mbi. Asaah Nkohkwo said, the value-for-money systems accountability appraisal taught FFF Cameroon team, is going to serve for better corporate planning and delivery, while set objectives will be easily translated into action.Metrology reporting and public accountability, stakeholder impact assessment, marketing, public relations and partnership strategies were issues treated during the three-month long training.
The trainees were introduced to a typical management system set-up, business planning and project management, budgeting for growth, direct and indirect income generation to deliver objectives, book keeping with traceable income deployment, information technology web site, filing knowledge acquisition, quality assurance and control, stake holder satisfaction, fund raising and micro finance, events management and health promotion.
Ursula Fontem, Anastasia Atabong and James Achanyi-Fontem were introduced to the several delivery methods including the use of a learning set and tutorial, models appraisal adopted by the Sickle Cell Society and PQASSO. Learning visits, outreach placements, self-directed enquiry and joining-in were other methods deployed to hand over known to the Cameroon managers.
Apart from the Sickle Cell Society UK, the other delivery partners included the British Council and the Commonwealth Commission, North-South TechnoMed, The Millennium Goals Foundation, TMG, United Kingdom and Outreach Management Services UK.
Outreach Management Services is specialized in providing solutions to charities, community and voluntary groups by equipping them with relevant skills. It helps groups of all sizes to maximize their potentials and become leaders in their fields. The training model of Outreach is high participative to enable the trainees to achieve insight and clarity, especially as the courses are design for people with different levels of experience.
Sickle Cell Society UK was formed in 1979, raises awareness and provides support to those suffering from the most common genetic blood disorder in the world. By the end of 1990s, members of the board recognized that in order for the organization to continue to have impact on the communities, a new approach of management was required.
In July 2002, Dr. Asa’ah Nkohkwo, a NHS-trained manager and the then Company Secretary of the Society, with some ideas about what changes were needed, he was appointed to the position of Director. He has undertaken a change management programme towards introducing efficiencies in all areas of the organization, saving costs as well as improving service and scope. During the Closing ceremony of the training at Chessington, UK, the Chairperson of TMG, Prof. Sama Nwana, invited the Commonwealth Fellows from Cameroon to serve as ambassadors of the organization that transferred knowledge to them. He added that, the training will serve for initiating a good road map of activities for the promotion of Sickle Cell Awareness in Cameroon.
In the past two years, the Sickle Cell Society UK has been working out a regional plan for the West Africa region to cover Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Cameroon. From latest information, the project has already be endorsed by the World Health Organization. Last November 17, the three Cameroonians became members of the Commonwealth Fellows Club during an exchange forum in London.
That is just part of what the Sickle Cell Society UK tried sharing with the managers of Fine Forest Foundation Cameroon for three months. This story is continued in internet blogs. Click on this connection to see more and