ASCOVIME and Poverty: Healthcare Volunteers


CAMEROON — The link between poverty and health is no secret. A nation in the suffocating grip of poverty often faces health problems as well. Further, many aspiring health professionals dream of getting a chance to make a difference and put their newfound knowledge to work for the good of others. Many organizations ensure young professionals get a chance to enrich the world with their services. Thankfully, ASCOVIME is one of these many groups.

ASCOVIME and Poverty

ASCOVIME is a group founded in 2008 whose mission statement proclaims to “fight against poverty by providing fundamental basics needs to needy populations.” ASCOVIME manages this through the hard work of volunteers. These volunteers include medical students giving their time and energy to help, hospitals and other medical facilities donating supplies or even an individual donating money and school supplies.

Dr. Georges Bwelle is the founder of ASCOVIME. Dr. Bwelle was inspired to help the poor and sick of Cameroon after spending years taking his father to various clinics for a brain hematoma sustained from an infection. This experience inspired Dr. Bwelle to become a doctor, specifically a vascular surgeon.

Why ASCOVIME is Necessary

In Cameroon, there is a critical shortage of doctors. For every 5,000 people, there is only one doctor. Given the lack of doctors, it’s easy to see why ASCOVIME is such a boon for Cameroon. According to Nicholas Prabhakar, a medical student at Midwestern University in the United States and a former ASCOVIME volunteer, a lack of doctors are not the only difficulties rural Cameroonians face. Prabhakar shared that the biggest obstacle to seeking medical care is distance. “Some of these villages are 20-30 miles away from the nearest hospital, and if you’re in dire need of surgery or suffering from a debilitating disease that distance is a major obstacle.”

Dr. Bwelle and ASCOVIME volunteers travel to these villages to provide a weekend clinic. The clinics provide a variety of health services from treating diseases like tuberculosis to something as simple as providing crutches. Additionally, Dr. Bwelle also performs light surgeries in the evenings with the ASCOVIME volunteers assisting. Mr. Prabhakar was a volunteer for one of them. “It was a great experience. The first patient I worked with was an eight-year-old child with hydrocephaly. He was a little scared at first, understandably so, but the surgery was rather simple and straightforward and went off without a hitch.”

ASCOVIME and Poverty: The Future

Everything ASCOVIME does is in the pursuit of eliminating the correlation between poor health and poverty. While it may seem like ASCOVIME works mostly in the healthcare sector, it has recently been branching out to ensure the elimination of poverty in Cameroon. In addition, ASCOVIME’s goals also encompass enhancing education services to reduce poverty. ASCOVIME intends to donate school supplies like books and chairs to schools along with convincing parents of the importance of sending their children to school. Further, ASCOVIME has also stated that it is interested in investing in small buses to access rural communities.

ASCOVIME is a wonderful group dedicated to not only healing the sick but curing poverty as well.  ASCOVIME helps address these problems by getting medical students and concerned parties involved through donations and volunteering. The students receive vital experience critical to their futures in the healthcare field. Additionally, the patients receive lifesaving medical attention and surgeries that help them break the cycle of poverty.

Ryan Holman
Photo: Flickr


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