Health workers trained by NICHE International support colleagues in Cameroon.

Health centres run by the Cameroon Baptist Health Convention, our partners in Cameroon, share their maternal and neonatal mortality data with their Health Districts. They aim to learn from incidents. Grace and her colleagues were invited to Nkoabang Baptist Health Centre, Nkoabang Village on the Eastern edge of Yaoundé this week to deliver 2 days of training to the staff as one of the outcomes of a neonatal death review.

The topics covered are resuscitation at birth, new born infections, convulsions, and fluid and electrolyte balance.

Three experienced nurses who have trained as trainers with NICHE are leading the training.

This is a good way of learning from incidents and sharing the knowledge, and is vital to saving babies’ lives in Cameroon.

Health workers who have done the Neonatal Care Course, use a confidential WhatsApp group to seek advice about clinical problems of babies they are caring for, and also to talk about neonatal deaths that have occurred in their own health facilities.

This information enables midwives and nurses to support each other in their work, and is valuable in indicating where further training might be useful.

and straight into a Neonatal Care Course (NCC)

While the international instructors were on their way home after a successful but frankly exhausting week of instructor development and training, Grace was busy preparing to teach 24 healthcare professionals on their next NCC. This course will take the number of nurses, doctors and midwives trained in newborn care in Cameroon to nearly 400. 2 extra people turned up from the local government facility, having heard on the grapevine that the course was going on.

All the instructors also teach resuscitation skills to staff in their own healthcare facilities. As Grace says “before, when there was a sick baby born, people were running in all directions [to get away from it]. Now people run towards the delivery area to try and resuscitate the baby.” As Jarlath says (Irish retired paediatrician and senior instructor with NICHE), “give people the confidence to give something a go, and the competence will naturally follow” because people have a driving need to do things better.

Motivational model with expanded “growth needs”

Maslow opined that humans would want to develop themselves and move on up his pyramid if the lower levels of needs were satisfied. That certainly seems to be the case in Cameroon.

Dr Leslie, trained as an instructor last week, teaching on convulsions on this week’s NCC

The somewhat incongruous paper strawberries hanging from the ceiling in a lot of the pictures from the last fortnight are left over from the teaching facility having been used for a party last month! We had a similar situation in Liberia in 2019 when we taught under a ceiling full of withered brown and yellow balloons and didn’t really notice until the photos came out. They don’t seem to detract from the learning.

Another 12 instructors trained

Alison gave out the certificates of achievement at the end of the 2-day generic instructor course. 2024 marks her 20th year as a volunteer in Cameroon, initially with MCAI charity and for the last 7 years with NICHE International. This is probably the last time she will come in person to Cameroon and we thanked her for her long service to the country – from overseeing the building of a playroom in Bamenda which enticed the children with HIV into their clinic, to the establishment of a breast milk bank in the same hospital, to the training of healthcare professionals in newborn care and now the support of a 28-strong Cameroonian teaching faculty. Alison continues as the lead trustee of NICHE International in the UK.

Alison at the centre of the Instructor Development Programme faculty with Mboppi Hospital Administrator

Instructor Development Programme Graduates

Graduates of the second Instructor Development Programme with their end of course certificate

16 healthcare professionals have just completed 2 days of Continuing Professional Development facilitated by 5 UK faculty who are in Cameroon to support the local Neonatal Care Course faculty and train 12 more instructors on the GIC at the end of the week. One of the 16, Ethel (second from the left, back row), is a nurse educator and is shadowing Ferenc, one of the European Resuscitation Council’s senior educators (sixth from the left, back row), and learning how to be a GIC educator.

It was an intense 2 days, mainly of educational updates but we had also been asked for some neonatal clinical updates so the material was interspersed with talks on jaundice, seizure management and CPAP, skills workshops on umbilical venous catheterisation and intraosseous needles as well as an evidence based discussion on the merits and dangers of cooling babies with ischaemic encephalopathy (early brain injury due to being without adequate oxygenation for an extended period around the time of birth) in low- and middle-income countries.

These professionals are the front line workers who will drive change in their health care facilities; they are driven by a need to make things better for new born babies in their country and to reduce neonatal mortality. Training and encouraging them as instructors of the Neonatal Care Course empowers them to initiate new practices at the coal face and hopefully effect long term changes for the good of the families they serve.

Instructor Development Programme (IDP)

Today was the first day of a 2.5 day programme designed to support the on-going professional development of the Cameroonian Instructors who are trainers on the Neonatal Care Course.

These Instructors value time to refresh their skills as trainers, and also to discuss clinical issues in neonatal care.  Some have travelled long distances from the North and North West Regions of Cameroon to attend the course.

Tree growing up the middle of Mboppi Hospital

This year NICHE International Instructors are doing the training in Mboppi Baptist Hospital in the urban centre of Douala.  It has been a challenging day, with temperatures of 36 degrees, and variable electricity supply and therefore air conditioning.

Jo and Kirstie just about coping with the heat in the teaching hall

We have been enthusiastically welcomed by our Cameroonian colleagues, and continue to be impressed by their dedication and commitment to improving neonatal care in their country.

Cameroon 2024

5 of the European faculty are in Cameroon this week for the second Instructor Development Programme which NICHE International has run here. We arrived 2 days ago – a fairly easy flight from London via Paris for 4 of us based in the UK (see our route map above), a slightly longer trip for our European Resuscitation Council educator who has travelled from deep snow covered north Sweden where the temperature today is -15, to 36 degrees and 80% humidity of Cameroon, via Stockholm and Addis Ababa.

Our journey is of course matched by those of our learners who have come from all over Cameroon to Douala for this course, some of them travelling over 12 hours by bus.

Fundraising for NICHE

Conal at 25k

On Sunday 15 October, Conal McDonagh completed the Amsterdam marathon – his first – to raise funds for NICHE’s work. Conal is the son of Alison Grove, NICHE Trustee.

Unable to take part in the run, his partner Gill Monaghan decided to do a ‘plank a day’ for a month to help raise funds. A professional dancer, Gill squeezed in her daily plank while touring in Europe.

Thanks to both for their tremendous efforts and for raising funds to support NICHE’s projects.

Gill planking all round the world for NICHE!

Link to their fundraising page is:

First independent course in Bwindi, Uganda

6 members of the trained faculty in Bwindi taught their first independent NCC this week

We were delighted this week to briefly and remotely join Sadias and his faculty for their first 2.5 day Neonatal Care Course since their own instructor training in February. 6 of the trained faculty were teaching 16 trainee nurses from the nursing school which adjoins Bwindi Community Hospital.

Prescribing antibiotics workshop
intraosseous needle insertion
Happy learners with their certificates

Julia joined Sadias (remotely) at the first break on day 1 and was impressed with the set up for the course – lovely light rooms with plenty of space and all stations prepared, ready to go. NICHE International had sponsored the refreshment breaks as we believe so strongly that people learn better when their physiological needs are met. I therefore got to talk to one of the students while he was in the queue for coffee. He was delighted with the course and felt his learning needs were being well met. Cath joined the team on day 2 in the morning to answer any queries the new faculty had. Other than that, they were completely autonomous. Well done, the team!

We are waiting to hear what support the Ugandan faculty feel they might require next.

NICHE at the Advanced Life Support Group (ALSG) conference in Manchester, UK

Our newest trustee, Dr Cath Harrison, and Dr Julia Thomson were speaking at the ALSG conference yesterday.

NICHE’s presentation was based around Maslow’s motivational model and showcased the need for “forward thinking, innovation and flexibility” which was the theme of the conference

Maslow is often quoted in adult learning circles – he developed his hierarchy of needs over 30 years from 1940 to 1970, believing strongly that humans want to grow and develop themselves and others and that – once our deficiency needs are met – we will automatically move up the pyramid. We spoke about the importance of feeding everyone properly on a course (Physiological needs) and ensuring everyone feels part of the team (Belonging and Love Needs) and valued (Esteem Needs). Only then will learners start tending to their own Cognitive Needs (engaging with the Neonatal Care Course), formulate plans to apply their learning (Aesthetic Needs), become instructors themselves (Self-Actualisation) and feel the buzz of teaching others for the good of all babies in their country (Transcendence).

Neonatal resuscitation trainer in Liberia, Grace directing the recent NCCs in Uganda