Cameroon: Training in internal and eternal medicine

January 24, 2019 • Cameroon
A student in the Christian Internal Medicine Specialization Program at Mbingo Baptist Hospital shares his findings with Program Director Dr. Dennis Palmer.
A student in the Christian Internal Medicine Specialization Program at Mbingo Baptist Hospital shares his findings with Program Director Dr. Dennis Palmer.

Dr. Brian Wirzba is a medical doctor from Edmonton, Alberta who specializes in Internal Medicine. He recently served with World Medical Mission in Cameroon—a country he says, that’s close to his heart.

As a child, my family served on the mission field in Cameroon. These days I am a regular visitor to the country, with this being my eighth annual trip to Mbingo Baptist Hospital to work in the Christian Internal Medicine Specialization Program (CIMS).

Mbingo Baptist Hospital was established in the 1950s as a leprosy hospital. Because of this, it was built in a remote, mountainous area of Cameroon with no nearby villages. Over the decades, however, it has grown into a 300-bed hospital that provides care for most medical issues.

It has become a major referral center in the country, with 50 percent of patients coming from distant provinces for care. The hospital has also become the central training center for the Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Board, providing training for nurses, primary care physicians, surgeons, and now internists.

Specialty training programs in Internal Medicine are not readily available in Africa, and are often very expensive. But the need to train local, Christian physicians to provide excellent, specialty-level care is clear. As a result, the CIMS Program was born in 2008 under the supervision of Dr. Dennis Palmer.

CIMS is a four-year program for African-trained, Christian physicians who desire further training as Internal Medicine specialists. The focus is not only on excellence in medical training, but also spiritual development. The program accepts Christian doctors who desire to continue working locally and to become future educators while also being witnesses for Christ in their work. Trainees are challenged to expand their knowledge base, improve their clinical skills, and to develop into mature Christian consultant physicians who not only care for the body, but also the soul of each of their patients.

Many aspects of the training are the same as in North America (rounding, studying, exams), but others are quite unique. One key component is to remember that as physicians, we have a unique ability to act as witnesses for Christ. As a medical team, we prayed daily for our patients and used opportunities granted by the Holy Spirit to talk to patients and their family members about our faith.

The entire hospital demonstrates the love of Christ through its actions and activities, and the CIMS Program continues to grow and expand the Kingdom of God in Cameroon.

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