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Los Angeles organizations send help to Cameroon

Juliana D. Norwood | 5/18/2011, 5 p.m.

Two Los Angeles-based organizations are working to improve the quality of life in the Motherland, specifically Cameroon, where the rates of HIV infection, maternal mortality and lack of access to healthcare and education are major issues. Additionally, about half of Cameroonians lack sustainable access to safe sanitation while over one-third lacks sustainable access to safe water.

The Cameroonian Women's Association, Southern California, (CAMWA-SOCAL), is a non-profit, charitable organization comprised of a group of educated women based in Los Angeles. The specific purpose of this group is to promote and undertake philanthropic activities that benefit children and women through social, economic and cultural activities with emphasis on health, education and welfare.

One of the organization's biggest projects concluded last year, when they conducted a massive fundraiser to purchase incubators for hospitals in Cameroon that needed them the most. After reviewing research, CAMWA-SOCAL found that other than Yaoundé and Douala, most of the regional hospitals in the country lacked enough incubators to serve the population. So they raised enough funds to purchase at least two $2,000 incubators per region.

CAMWA-SOCAL was also instrumental in getting a $30,000 CD4 count machine (measures the t-cells in blood and helps determine when it is necessary for a patient to undergo HIV treatment) donated by Millipore Inc. and The Foundation for Orphaned Abandoned and Disabled African Children. CAMWA-SOCAL paid for the transportation, reagents and test kits to serve 1,000 patients at a health fair in Nkambe, which they were able to sponsor after three years of fundraising.

Another organization working in Cameroon, the Fomukong Health Foundation (FHF), is a Los Angeles-based, non-profit non-governmental entity engaging in humanitarian development and aid in Sub-Sahara Africa, underdeveloped, and developing countries focusing heavily on Cameroon where the HIV prevalence rate is high at approximately 5.4 percent of its people having a positive diagnosis.

"Our planet used to seem like a very big place; great continents separated by immense bodies of water. "Their" diseases weren't ours (or so we hoped). But a mere 14 hours is all that separates any of us from either side of the world; what with modern transportation and the click of a mouse," said Ndika Fomukong chairman and CEO of the Fomukong Health Foundation. "Even with mankind's relentless search for cures and treatment, the diseases that have threatened (us) for centuries still do, because of the lack of adequate medical care. We can no longer rest on our laurels or a sense of false security; we are not living in something akin to a vast ocean. We live in a fish bowl."

The foundation's major goal is to ensure affordable, reliable and dependable healthcare systems in underserved communities. In addition, it stresses education, prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis; women's health education and prevention and treatment of gynecological diseases; and the prevention and treatment of other diseases prevalent to these nations such as malaria, typhoid, guinea worm, cholera, yellow fever and hepatitis.

The Fomukong Health Foundation Inc. has partnered with key neighborhood hospitals in Cameroon and Senegal. FHF Inc. has also provided thousands of condoms and educational materials printed in both English and French languages for dissemination to the community.

"People are dying. Babies are dying, and we can only make a difference in the lives of the millions at risk if we educate them and provide quality medical care. But we cannot do this alone. We are in the throes of a one-thing-leads-to-the-next tragedy of insurmountable odds. The only ray of hope lies in humanity's instinct to survive," said Fomukong.

For more information or to donate to either one of these organizations, please visit their websites at www.camwasocal.org and www.fomukonghealthfoundation.org.