As president of HealthLink for Africa International Inc., I would like to welcome you to our web site. Itís our pleasure to inform you about HealthLink for Africa International, who we are and what we do.
I was born in Cameroon and have traveled extensively in Africa. I still have family and many friends in Africa, so my exposure to the health crises in Africa is more intimate than the occasional news story. This organization was borne of the desire of caring people like you to do something that could make a difference and give hope to those in desperate need.
We started brainstorming with friends in the U.S and Cameroon on ways that we could contribute and make a difference to the health crises of the people in Cameroon. The Cameroonian doctors involved in our discussion group stressed the need to alleviate the shortages of general medical supplies. Their frustration and the nature of their requests made it clear that these doctors were lacking some very fundamental resources for their daily practices. My thought at that time was that suture kits, clean needles and gloves are disposable, or at least they should be. The idea that these items are re-used, and in some cases must be procured by patients themselves for their own treatment, is insupportable. Of course these basic needs must be addressed. Yet, we wanted to contribute something lasting, something that could support a sustained flow of these items, something that could do much more.
After further discussion, it seemed the one development that could improve health care for the greatest number of people, and for the largest variety of medical conditions, was an improved clinical diagnostic system. Anyone who has lived in Africa understands the hassle involved in getting even the most basic lab or radiology tests done. The medical doctors shared appalling estimates indicating that only 5%-25% of patients manage to follow through with recommended tests. With such minimal follow-through, doctorsí hands are tied in their attempts to prescribe appropriate treatment. Their expectation is that the developments brought by HealthLink for Africa International will significantly reduce the number of unnecessary deaths simply by making diagnostic services available and accessible to all patients who need them.
In my own experience in Africa, I know of many people who lost their lives unnecessarily because of a lack of medical resources, a lack of medical history, and the resulting non-diagnosis or misdiagnosis of treatable illness. People die across Africa every day from things that would be easily diagnosed and treated if the person were in the U.S. These deaths should not be occurring. I lost my own mother in Cameroon because her medical history wasnít taken into consideration during a simple surgical procedure. The lack of a coordinated medical history database is still a fact today for the vast majority of Africans, and HealthLink for Africa International has included a medical record component in its mission.
All of our programs are designed to promote a stronger doctor-patient relationship, thereby encouraging preventive health behaviors and standards. We are a partner of, not a competitor to, providers in our operational areas. Filling the diagnostic gap empowers providers to treat diseases rather than symptoms. It also introduces the foundation on which preventive health standards can be established and practiced. Combined with educational programs and clinical outreach undertaken in partnership with African providers, HealthLink for Africaís diagnostic complex offers unprecedented hope for medically needy populations.
Since the establishment of HealthLink for Africa International, more than 130 talented individuals have donated their time, services and skills to the organization. I must express here my heartfelt thanks to all of those generous people, without whom HealthLink for Africa International would not have developed to its current state.
Although our mission initially evolved with Cameroon in mind, which made strategic sense because of our existing contacts in that country, we took pains to develop a pan-African model for diagnostics in the secure knowledge that the same needs cry out from many other areas in Africa. The goal of HealthLink for Africa International is to promote and help maintain the health of the African population.
The very social and economic future of all of Africa is currently threatened by health issues, particularly malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS. The HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa today has focused world attention on the region. Such attention is very welcome support for our Back Home HIV Outreach Program.
We hope you will join us in our effort to defy some of the most dire predictions of mind bending proportions about the future of the African continent. Africa today needs all the help it can get, and that is a major reason why I am inviting you to support our efforts. We welcome you and thank you for the visit.