2020 has been declared as the ‘International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife’. Today, more than ever, we are witnessing the vital role played by frontline hospital staff, especially nurses and other hospital workers in providing health care around the world during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nurses are at the forefront of the pandemic response, providing high-quality treatment and care.
Today we shine a light on the work of one of our ophthalmic nurses in Cameroon.
Landrinirina Lala Jaona - inspiring a new breed of ophthalmic nurses
Before the pandemic, ophthalmic nurse and tutor, Landrinirina Lala Jaona's schedule looked something like this -
Jaona makes a round in the theatre department at MICEI hospital in Oback, Cameroon. This is his routine each morning. There are approximately 15 patients to be operated on everyday. He inspects the theatres and ensures that all is set for surgeries for the day. He goes over the schedule with his team and soon they all swing into action, working as a team to ensure overall success in their operations.
Jaona says: “My role in the team is to supervise as well as train the ophthalmic nurses and assistants. Beyond supervision, I’m involved in the day-to-day activities in the theatre.” During the day he works with the team, occasionally looking over the shoulders of his trainees to observe their work, offering guidance where necessary and responding to questions when asked.
Jaona has to make sure that the team is productive and excels in their work. He says: “Most of the nurses recruited at the hospital are general practitioners and my duty is to train and mentor them to become qualified ophthalmic assistants.”
In Cameroon, many people do not have access to quality eye health services. One main reason for this is the lack of qualified health workers. In Cameroon, there are 73 ophthalmologists – this is 3 per one million people in the country. Hence there is a high need and strong demand for not just ophthalmologists but also ophthalmic nurses. CBM is supporting the MICEI hospital to meet this need through training and mentorship programs for staff and trainees from within and beyond Cameroon.
Plans are already underway for a full training centre which will train ophthalmologists and staff in Cameroon and french-speaking central & west Africa to become the next generation of leaders in eye care. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the trainings ranged from weekly courses to one-on-one mentorship and coaching sessions.
Normally, Jaona teaches 15 nurses in his weekly classes every Friday. 26-year-old Wilson Ayienwi was recruited at MICEI as a general nurse in the outpatient department. Today (one year later), he works in the theatre unit as a scrub nurse.
Wilson says: “For the past one year I have gained new knowledge and skills and grown professionally thanks to the training and mentorship from Jaona.” He adds: “MICEI has not only offered me a job opportunity, it has given me a training opportunity. The mentorship and coaching I receive from Jaonna is on a daily basis and he is always available to answer my questions. Over the months I have learnt and grown to the extent that I am able to perform my duties now without him standing by my side to supervise each role.”
“My biggest satisfaction with my job is knowing that I can help others grow in their careers as well. Also, the satisfaction and smiles on the faces of our clients after receiving our services are priceless.”Landrinirina Lala Jaona, Ophthalmic nurse and tutor.
Happy clients = happy workers!
Mbone Madeleine (pictured above), is a satisfied client at MICEI hospital. She recently had a cataract surgery on her left eye. She states: “The surgery was not stressful or scary because Jaona took time to explain things to me throughout the process.”
Jaona says: “I work as a nurse tutor but I am constantly learning as well. My work with CBM is an amazing learning experience. Today, I have a deeper understanding about disabilities and I see persons with disabilities in a different light. Outside of work I advocate for persons with disabilities, educating others to help them become more independent.”
After the 15th surgery, Jaona and his team tidy the theatre and set it up for the next day. He takes a break and grabs a quick lunch before heading down to the conference room for his class. Usually there are 14 nurses in attendance. The lesson for the day is on how to use a slit lamp. Jaonna presents in both English and French, as the nurses come from different linguistic backgrounds. He responds to their questions as the lectures proceed. They have a practical session after lectures.
Class ends at 5.30pm. Jaona is now ready to head back home to be with his family. He and his family relocated to Cameroon from his home country Madagascar.
Jaona was first introduced to CBM's work in 2002, when he worked as an employee in a CBM partner eye hospital in Antananarivo. Two years ago, he applied for a job as a nurse tutor in Cameroon. After he was recruited, he relocated to Cameroon to take up the position.
From Antananarivo to Yaoundé, Jaona says his work with CBM has been a learning and growing experience. He says: “Everyday, CBM offers me a chance to help others in spectacular ways.”