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Local Health Emergency System: An approach that instils the spirit of solidarity and community service

Empower host communities and internally displaced persons, and help them stay alive through a sustainable local health emergency system.

Photo of sangwe clovis
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What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

Cameroon, a country in West and Central Africa is currently a host of refugees from Nigeria in the North due to the boko-haram insurgency and in the East from Central Africa Republic. The socio-political crisis in the North West and South West Regions have let to internal displacement of about 500,000persons. Most internally displaced persons and refugees usually find refuge in remote rural areas. Most remote rural areas in Cameroon generally have poor health access. Cameroon has a low physician density of only 1.3physician per 1000population, and as low as 2 physicians per 10,000population in some rural areas. Health access is further worsened by bad roads and lack of medical emergency system which delays time taken for a patient with a medical emergency to reach the hospital. Sudden rise in the total population in these areas will lead to increased health challenges stemming from over crowding. Over crowding has been found to be associated with raised disease burden, increase mortality rate and epidemic outbreaks. It is therefore a matter of urgency to help the community withstand, prevent and fight health consequences arising from the sudden population growth. Our solution is to empower both host communities and people on the move on basic health issues(like how to make water safe for drinking), train them on basic first aid and create a local first aid emergency system that will help them cater for themselves, contact nearest hospital and use well adapted local transportation means to rush patients to the hospital when need arises. This solution will not only help them stay alive, it will create solidarity and collaboration between people on the move and host Communities. This is because the local first aid system will depend on mutual support and willingness to help each other stay alive, to function effectively. The emergency system will be owned and run by host Communities and people on the move.

Geography of focus (500 characters)

Our area of focus is Douala VI subdivision in the Littoral Region of Cameroon. It is a host community to internally displaced persons because it shares borders with one of the regions in crisis. It has a population of about 40,000persons unevenly distributed in 47islands. The entire population is catered for by a lone hospital with 2 medical doctors. There is a big problem of inaccessibility because it takes hours on water to reach the hospital and commercial boats don't sail every day.

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

The project brings together people on the move and neighbors to fight for their survival as one community. It will empower them with unique skills and knowledge that will help them to work together under one umbrella (local first aid emergency system) to fight health effects of sudden rise in population density. It will therefore help people on the move to integrate faster and become a part of the community.

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

Our project is going to give hope to both the host community and people on the move. Instead of watching their love ones die helplessly, the local first aid system will help them make an effort not just as a family but as one community to help the victim/patient stay alive. The project will also help them prevent epidemic outbreaks which will have left the community in sorrow. The hope that this brings will boost confidence and solidarity among them, making them more prepared and willing to host and help even more people on the move. Lastly, people on the move will feel loved, interact more and will be more open and ready to restart life.

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

1) The Local emergency system will markly reduced the number of pre-hospital deaths that will have been made worse by overcrowding (overcrowding has serious health consequences). Our indicator will be to compare number of pre-hospital deaths every 6months. 2)The project will empower people on the move and neighbors to better prevent health consequences of over crowding including epidemics. We will reevaluate their knowledge and health behaviours every 6months and compare. 3)The emergency system requires full collaboration between people on the move and neighbors to function effectively. Since they all have a common problem which is pre-hospital deaths, it will promote solidarity and community service. Our indicator will be how fast people on the move integrate themselves in the community. 4) Neighbors will be more confident and empowered to host people on the move. The fear that comes with overcrowding will be completely subdued. Questionnaires will be used to evaluate neighborswill

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

I am a medical doctor practicing in the lone Hospital in Douala VI subdivision( Manoka District Hospital). I have watched many patients rushed in at near death and also received reports of pre-hospital deaths which occurred as a result of delays to get to the hospital. The last stroke on the camels back was a case of a 23 year old internally displaced pregnant lady that was rushed in with severe blood shortage following bleeding for 2days. The family did not bring her earlier because of no available commercial transport means, since they do not own a boat. I started asking myself, what if there was solidarity at the island where she is coming from? What if members of that community received training on basic first aid? What if they have a local first aid system to help them stay alive? It means that, basic first aid will have been offered and an emergency local transport means made available by the community. This was my motivation.

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

Douala VI subdivision is a remote area made up of 47 islands and only one Hospital with 2doctors to cater for a population of 42,000 persons with no existing medical emergency system. There is a very poor commercial transportation system making health access a nightmare. This was the state of this rural area prior to the anglophone crisis. Presently there are rising health challenges worsened by increasing number of internally displaced persons fleeing from the neighbouring South West region. Over crowding is not only increasing the work burden for the 2 physicians, it is posing a huge risk of rising health challenges, including the possibility of an epidemic.

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

1)Both people on the move and neighbors have one common challenge which is poor health access with a huge pre-hospital death rate. This is a big motivation for all to come together to seek a common solution for the good of all. 2)Every island is controlled by notables and everyone respects and accepts decisions from them. So our project makes use of this to ensure community sustainability. 3)Each island has several "meeting groups" that makes it easy to educate and pass on an information since members are usually peers or at least share common view about societal issues. This include the transporters group, Women's group etc. Our project makes use of this, to empower the community. 4) since they live on islands, they are bound by nature to collaborate and help each other since they have no where else to run to.

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

1) Our first partner is Manoka Health District 2)We will partner with existing social groups in every island. 3) public health experts and first aid trainers

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Arriving and settling at a destination community

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Systems design: Solutions that target changing larger system

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Pilot: We have started to implement the idea as a whole with a first set of real users. The feasibility of an innovation is tested in a small-scale and real world application (i.e. 3-15% of the target population)

Group or Organization Name

Rural Doctors

Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

Rural Doctors is a non-profit organization with aim to beat preventable deaths in rural areas. We envisage a world where persons living in rural areas have an equal chance to stay healthy like those in urban areas. Our mission is to design and implement well tailored projects that will help to beat Preventable deaths in rural areas, especially among vulnerable persons (pregnant women, children less than 5years, the elderly, persons living with chronic diseases, refugees and internally displaced persons. This project perfectly blends with our goal to reduce preventable deaths among vulnerable persons. We are the right group for this project because of our community experience and the fact that most of our actors are doctors who have practiced in rural settings. I am the founder of Rural Doctors and at the same time a medical doctor working in the lone Hospital in this target community. So I have a mastery of the problem and what it entails.

Website URL:

Type of submitter

  • We are a registered Non-Profit Organization

Organization Headquarters: Country


Organization Headquarters: City / State



Join the conversation:

Photo of Uchenna Okafor

Hi sangwe clovis! Thanks for this insightful idea. You are right on point. Yes; it makes no sense to be waiting for the government while the local people are dying of treatable ailments. Nonetheless, I am appealing for special provision for disabled persons in this design. Thank you once again and best wishes.

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