Dr Suzan Enjema Aweh popularly known as Dr Sea gives health advice on YouTube and other online platforms, mostly in Pidgin English, reaching a large population of people without access to affordable healthcare in Cameroon and across the region.
Dr. Sea gives health advice online, as a way to counter infrastructure bottlenecks in the country where access to doctors and remains a challenge.
Dr. Sea specialises in internal medicine and cardiology and uses short videos to offer information and advice on how people can prevent and manage diseases as well as receive treatment.
The doctor who practices in Germany posts her videos on YouTube to enable ordinary people use the platform to follow her talks on computers and cell phones.
Dr. Sea calls what she does ‘meducation’ the topics covered are mostly done in pidgin English, which is widely spoken in parts of West Africa. The physician started filming videos in 2014 after a colleague asked if she was interested in filming health segments.
“When he approached me I was like brilliant idea, I already have lectures in hypertension, lectures in diabetes in pidgin and we can just star, why don’t we start… So I remember the very first day we started I actually left from night duty I was tired but I had to do that video. I was very excited about it and since then taking watch of all the things I ever did in front of the camera became a new… became my world,” she said.
Cameroon is struggling with a shortage of medical professionals with fewer than two doctors for every 10 000 people, making it difficult to provide adequate medical services.
Dr Sea wants to help fill the gap in medical services through her program.
At the Baptist hospital in Kumba, Doctor Tatah Divine says doctors in the country in general are overwhelmed and that he even sees 60 patients a day sometimes.
He is sceptical though about online healthcare program, saying this may discourage patients from going to hospital for a proper diagnosis.
“You really need a medical personnel, a trained Doctor to clerk you, examine and then maybe do some test to be able to say okay this person is having a kind of chronic typhoid which has perforated his intestines. That can be an emergency, it an emergency because it can lead to septicaemia, many other things. So talking about going online to seek for medical attention, its quote unquote good but it can be very harmfully too,” said Dr. Divine.
“The challenges come as poverty, lack of information, lack of infrastructure because even if someone in the village is informed about what is going on in their body, they know what they should do what they should not do, if they need professional care they would have to leave from that village, sometimes to go somewhere else because the infrastructure is not there. And even when that health care is in the neighbouring urban setting, they might not even have the road,” said Dr. Sea.
Dr. Sea also holds seminars and trains doctors for free whenever she visits the country. She recently gave a talk on non-communicable diseases attended by a number of health practitioners. The doctor also has a webpage where she posts health articles; she says her work targets not only people in Cameroon but in West Africa as well.
“My favourite video is that on antibiotics resistance. Why—is because antibiotics resistance is something that many people don’t know about. It’s something that, it’s a silent killer that keeps rising and none of us know about it,” said Njang Emmanuel, a Buea resident.
“I’m of the opinion that it is something… most of the alumni network of Doctors who have left the country can contribute to and through an initiative such as this they can make great impact,” said Monique Kwachou another Buea resident.
Dr. Sea is working on plans to start filming videos in Hausa and Swahili, to educate more people and help address a shortage of doctors and other health practitioners on the continent.