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.

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.

First Neonatal Care Course in the Far North Region of Cameroon

Dr Alison Earley

B marks Maroua, the main city in the far north region of Cameroon, a 36 hour journey by bus from Yaoundé

The Far North Region of Cameroon is at the Northern tip of the country, between Nigeria and Chad. Its capital is Maroua, which lies to the East of the Mandara mountains.

Pictures from the Mandara mountains

This is where Cameroonian Instructors are currently teaching the Neonatal Care course. Two of the instructors did their instructor training in Yaoundé in April this year, when NICHE International volunteers visited to facilitate the course. Other instructors are more experienced and have taught on several Neonatal Care Courses before.

Faculty member, Felicia, ready for action at Maroua CBCHS health facility

The perinatal mortality is particularly high in this remote region, and the course is much needed. The instructors travelled for 36 hours from Yaoundé, Cameroon’s capital, to reach Maroua where they are training healthcare workers in the Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services facility. The majority of the health care workers in the Region are French speaking, and the course manual has been translated into French for them.

Felicia in action, training nurses and midwives in neonatal resuscitation

They shared their past frustrations and said this course will help them to save many lives

Grace on the learners’ feedback after course number 1 last night

Empowering local healthcare staff

Mme Ngome Vivian, recently trained NCC instructor, returned to her health facility and delivered training on the oxygen concentrator

The Neonatal Care Course is a short, stand alone course on the care of the newborn baby in the first 28 days of life but the ripple effects of the training are far-reaching. NICHE believes that training local instructors leads to this sort of – hopefully long lasting – empowerment. Many oxygen concentrators are abandoned or broken because they are poorly maintained or not fully understood. Here, Vivian is teaching staff at Nkoabang Baptist Health Centre how to look after this vital piece of equipment.

Nkoabang Baptist Health Centre, 15 miles outside of Yaoundé, Cameroon

The transcript below is Vivian’s WhatsApp message to Grace in Cameroon, delighted that a baby’s oxygen saturations came up so demonstrably after she had overhauled the concentrator and got it working again:

[5:00 pm, 25/05/2022] NDZE GRACE BONGBAN: Greetings to everyone in the house above is my first presentation on oxygen concentrator to the staff body in Nkoabang Baptist health center infact i really thank Ma Grace and Daddy Justin Fombe for the knowledge I have rescued a patient’s life today we had a patient whose saturation stood at 88 just from cleaning changing distilled water, positioning and ventilation saturation is now 91 dear colleagues let’s pass this knowledge to safe lives on another positive note i emphasized on the need for a projector and we bought one to facilitate teaching
[5:00 pm, 25/05/2022] NDZE GRACE BONGBAN: Also did a presentation to MCH Staff today on convulsion and there was a lot of learning
[5:00 pm, 25/05/2022] NDZE GRACE BONGBAN: We keep on putting our knowledge into practice and results will be visible

The European instructors have gone home


by Grace Ngoran

The second NCC kicked off today with 28 participants in attendance (the 4 extra being the staff who could not make it down to Yaoundé from Bamenda earlier in the week due to concerns around their safety). The excitement was evident as the instructor candidates came up again powerfully with excellent performance. The workshops were really excited particularly the breastfeeding workshop where everyone used the breast models to demonstrate proper latching technique. Participants were observed to be more involved and participatory.

Knitted visual aids in use during the breastfeeding workshop in Yaoundé today

Brighten the corner where you are…

….is a Cameroonian expression meaning do your best to improve things wherever you find yourself. 

Instructor candidate Dr Matzo Fanny Kigne teaches practical skills on a Neonatal Care Course.

During the last 2 days our newly trained Instructor Candidates have stepped up and exceeded expectations in the way they have trained 16 learners on a Neonatal Care Course.  Some of these new trainers come from rural districts in the Northern Abamawa Region, where they work in small isolated units.  They are determined to improve the standard of newborn care in the places they work.  They will indeed be brightening their corner!

Supervised instructors in full swing at Cameroon Neonatal Care Courses

Newly trained NCC instructors teaching their first course

It is always a great moment as an instructor trainer to watch someone you have just trained stand up and deliver a lecture, facilitate a workshop or teach a skill in the way that the Resus Council’s Generic Instructor Course (GIC) suggests. In the UK, we don’t often have the privilege of seeing this beautiful transition from student to teacher as people disperse after a GIC and teach on their provider courses at a different time. Because of the financial and environmental cost of NICHE volunteers travelling long distances to the countries where we are active, we now attach 2 NCCs to the end of every GIC to complete the new instructors’ training. And the rewards for the exhausted team of trainers are immense.

Keen midwives and nurses being trained in newborn care on the NCC currently going on in Yaoundé

These 16 healthcare professionals are learning about the care of the newborn infant in the first 28 days of life. (There should have been 4 more but it was too dangerous for them to travel down from Bamenda in the North West region of Cameroon which still has a significant amount of civil unrest). The learners are also providing the new instructors with the means to complete their training as instructors as each newly trained instructor has to teach on 2 NCCs, supervised by more senior instructors, in order to be fully fledged instructors themselves.

The NICHE team of 4 has been working very hard this week to deliver a GIC and these 2 NCCs. They started the week by running a one day instructor update for the established NCC faculty in Cameroon who have been courageously continuing the project throughout their country’s period of civil unrest and the pandemic.

You can read more about our first Instructor Development Day below.

“I am sending them out to blow their trumpets”

3rd Cameroonian GIC completed and the first 2 local GIC instructors have begun their training

This is what our programme manager for newborn training in Cameroon said today, as we were coming to the end of their successful “train the trainers” course.

Dr Ferenc Sari, European Resuscitation Council educator, and our educator on this week’s GIC course in Cameroon, has been impressed by the progress of the participants over the 2 days. We are privileged to be able to witness and support their first teaching experience which will occur when they teach on Neonatal Care Courses later in the week.

A GIC candidate taking Alison through a resuscitation scenario
GIC candidates discussing peer-to-peer learning

The Learning Conversation in Cameroon

The circle of trust

The learning conversation is a term used in adult education, and is a skill required for giving feedback to learners on their performance. A well-managed learning conversation should leave learners feeling “relieved, valued and clear about their next steps”. It is not an easy skill to master, and requires practice.

In Cameroon this week, NICHE instructors have spent a day refreshing the skills of newly qualified local Neonatal Care Course instructors. The learning conversation was one of the skills we spent time on together. During these sessions we sat in a circle with the candidates, sometimes know as “circle of trust”. This was a new concept to them, but they embraced the principles. The exercise emphasised the importance of trust, particularly as we all come from such different cultures and backgrounds.

Instructor Development Day, yaounde

Dr Alison Earley

This is the group of 11 Instructors who attended the first Instructor Development Day that NICHE has run. They came from 5 different Regions in Cameroon, and did their instructor training in 2016 and 2018. They are a mixture of doctors, nurses and midwives. All were keen to refresh and develop their skills as trainers and the course was lively and enjoyed by everyone.