Monday, March 25, 2019

AIDSfreeAFRICA announces a ten session podcast series

You can click on the link below or find it wherever you get your podcasts from. Please be sure to click subscribe to get all of the podcasts as they come out.

Enjoy, Dr. Rolande Hodel 

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

AIDSfreeAFRICA: Exciting Updates on the Malaria Free Zone Program

Malaria, a disease transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito, is a serious public health problem in Cameroon, especially for children younger than five. To combat this problem, AIDSfreeAFRICA launched the Malaria Free Zone (MFZ) program in 2015 in Cameroon (for more information visit The goal of the program is to reduce the malaria infection rate while educating the residents on how malaria can be transmitted and/or prevented. As a part of the MFZ program, bed nets are permanently affixed to windows to make the entire structure a malaria-free environment. A behind-the-scenes look at this program was first introduced in the Chemists Without Borders Newsletter 27 (

Since the inception of the MFZ program, AIDSfreeAFRICA has equipped over 150 homes/structures and over 700 individual windows throughout Cameroon. The initial phase of the MFZ program began in Bamenda in the Northwest Region of Cameroon and Yaounde, which is in the Central Region. In the next phase of the MFZ program, AIDSfreeAFRICA is looking to expand to the Littoral Region, which includes the port city of Douala. Doula’s population is over 2.5 million. The MFZ program has the potential of making a vast impact on malaria-infection rates in such a densely populated region. Recently, AIDSfreeAFRICA formed a partnership with the Health District in Garoua in the North Region of Cameroon. The government in Garoua has provided 50 bed nets to spearhead the MFZ program efforts in this area. Great strides are being made so far, and AIDSfreeAFRICA hopes to expand the MFZ program to all 10 regions of Cameroon.

To accomplish the goal of reaching all regions of Cameroon, the MFZ program will need additional volunteers and monetary support. Currently, there are almost 20 AIDSfreeAFRCA volunteers in Cameroon that are gathering supplies, coordinating installations, and affixing bed nets to windows. Short-term volunteer opportunities for individuals from overseas that would like to support the MFZ program’s mission are also available.

To contact us directly, please visit the AIDSfreeAFRICA website ( and send us a message letting us know how you would like to partner with our organization to help Cameroon!

Saturday, August 25, 2018

AIDSfreeAFRICA: Equipping Laboratories in Cameroon

AIDSfreeAFRICA: Equipping laboratories in Cameroon

Over the years AIDSfreeAFRICA has had the opportunity to consult with seven pharmaceutical startup companies in Cameroon, West Africa. During that time, it became apparent that these companies followed a certain pattern that ultimately ends in shut down. There are a host of reasons why these heroic efforts end so disappointingly, but one fact holds true for all: it is tremendously difficult to sustain pharmaceutical production in a resource-poor setting. The lack of the necessary supporting infrastructure that is taken for granted in developed countries stacks the odds against these efforts. AIDSfreeAFRICA thus decided to focus on hands-on-laboratory training which, is one aspect needed but lacking in Cameroon. Currently, AIDSfreeAFRICA is equipping two laboratories, one in the capital Yaounde and one in Bamenda, the largest city in the English-speaking Northwest region. In Yaounde, the laboratory is run by an employee and is focused on medical diagnostics. Specifically, a fluorescent microscope found nowhere else in the country is used to diagnose malaria. AIDSfreeAFRICA is also working to acquire a thermocycler for polymerase chain reaction, a test used to measure HIV viral loads.

The Bamenda Laboratory is dedicated to becoming the premiere quality control laboratory focusing on pharmaceutical drug and water quality. Cameroon has little opportunity to analyze the drugs that come into the country and even less for those that are already on the market. Doctors have a hard time deciding if a treatment is not working because it is not the correct cure for a patient or if the drug has lost its efficacy due to loss of the active ingredient due to improper storage and exposure to heat and humidity. The 32-square meter laboratory that belongs to one of the government research institutions is currently renovated to reach a level of standard necessary.
AIDSfreeAFRICA is looking for scientists, professors, science teachers who have access to basic chemistry analytical equipment and who would like to come to Cameroon, conduct a one or two week long hands-on training. At the end of the training, the equipment will be put in the care of AIDSfreeAFRICA for further use in the lab. In particular, AIDSfreeAFRICA is interested in the following:

·       pH meters with ion-specific electrodes
·       Acid-base titration
·       Thin-layer chromatography (TLC) supplies (sheets, developing chamber).
·       High-pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC)
·       Gas chromatography (GC)
·       Combustion analysis machine for determining elemental composition
·       Karl Fischer titration equipment
·       Kjeldahl nitrogen analysis equipment
·       Other small analytical chemistry equipment and experiments

If you are interested send your CV and a proposal of what you would like to teach to Dr. Rolande Hodel at The earliest opportunity lies between May 30 and July 30, 2019.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

AIDSfreeAFRICA Malaria Free Zone Program: A Behind the Scenes Look

Malaria is a serious disease caused by a parasite. It is transmitted from one person to another by the bite of an infected mosquito. When a mosquito bites an infected person, it picks up a small amount of blood, which contains the parasite. The parasite, mixed with the mosquito’s saliva, is injected into the next person the mosquito bites, and this person becomes sick as well. Malaria symptoms include fever, chills, body pain, vertigo, loss of appetite and sleepiness. When left untreated, malaria can result in kidney failure, seizures, and even death because the parasite destroys red blood cells. Malaria is a serious problem in Cameroon, especially for children below the age of five.

In 2015, AIDSfreeAFRICA spearheaded a malaria-free zone (MFZ) program in Yaounde, Cameroon (for more information visit The goal of the program is to reduce the malaria infection rate while educating the residents on how malaria can be transmitted and/or prevented. As a part of the MFZ program, bed nets are permanently affixed to windows to make the entire structure a malaria-free environment.

In this post, Hilbert Kamo, a Cameroon native employed by AIDSfreeAFRICA, helped to answer important questions regarding the malaria free zone program.

Are most people willing to get the nets put on their windows?
“At the start, it was not easy, but now the number of people willing to get mosquito nets fixed is increasing.”

What materials are needed for installing netting to a window?
To install netting on a window, the following items are needed: nails, hammer, a net, gloves, detergent/soap, a bucket and sometimes wood. Many items are donated or purchased by AIDSfreeAFRICA, but old bed nets are often collected from trash sites.

Collection and washing of old mosquito nets

How do you decide which homes to put the netting?
Individuals who bring their bed nets to AIDSfreeAFRICA become a priority for having netting installed on their homes. Sometimes people offer to help to install the netting, moving them to the top of the list.

Homeowners may also come forward and request to have nettings put on their homes. If they offer to pay a small amount of money for the service we make an appointment immediately. Some people understand that participating in the program will save them money on hospital bills since they avoid getting malaria. We also work with local community institution such as schools, health centers and places of worship.

How long does it take to install the netting on the windows for one home?

It takes anywhere from four to ten hours to install netting on the windows of a home. The time varies depending on the number of windows that need to be netted and whether or not volunteers, who often live there, help with the installation. Fortunately, two locals recently applied to volunteer with the malaria-free zone program.

Windows with affixed mosquito netting

To contact us directly, please visit the AIDSfreeAFRICA website ( and send us a message letting us know how you would like to partner with our organization to help Cameroon!

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Cameroon’s Need for Basic Laboratory Services: A Call for Action

AIDSfreeAFRICA’s mission is to implement and advance pharmaceutical drug production in Sub-Saharan Africa. Although AIDSfreeAFRICA has been working in Cameroon since 2005, the organization has only recently decided to tackle the problems that arise because of the general lack of basic laboratory services in the African nation.

AIDSfreeAFRICA is often approached and asked to take samples of pharmaceutical drugs to the USA and test them for their composition and/or quality. The import of pharmaceuticals in Cameroon is largely unregulated. Much of the imported drugs are brought into the country from Nigeria by salespeople who buy and sell drugs with little regard for the origin of the drugs. Additionally, the salespeople are not educated on how to transport or store drugs properly. We suspect that the main problem with drug quality in Cameroon is degradation due to heat and humidity rather than the counterfeit drugs. However, without the ability to quality control drugs on a large scale, it is hard to say.

Another problem is created by falling drinking water levels, which causes people to drill more wells. However, once water is found the question is: is this water suitable for consumption? 

The ability to analyze drugs, water, animal feed, and soil samples is just one area that needs attention. When you add to this the need to enhance laboratory education in high schools and universities it becomes apparent why AIDSfreeAFRICA is asking Chemist Without Borders readers to respond to this article and help with our efforts. We are looking for chemistry/biology equipment, especially for quality control work and science laboratory education. Please consult our website to see a list of equipment needed.

We are fortunate that the Cameroonian government is welcoming our efforts. We are currently negotiating a contract to receive one laboratory room in a government research facility in Bamenda/Mankon. We are looking forward to finalizing the discussions, signing the contract, moving in and getting started.

To contact us directly, please visit the AIDSfreeAFRICA website ( and send us a message letting us know how you would like to partner with our organization to help Cameroon!

Friday, December 15, 2017

AIDSfreeAFRICA and the Malaria Free Zone Project

If you live in a community with Malaria and are interested in implementing our program in your community feel free to contact us via our web site We would like this program to be used all over the world.

Malaria, a devastating disease that runs rampant in sub-Saharan Africa, is passed on to mosquitoes by an infected human and spread to many more humans by that very same infected mosquito. Of the over 200 million cases of malaria worldwide, 90% of them happen in Africa. In countries like Cameroon, more than 70% of the population is in danger of falling victim to this disease; many of those include children under the age of 5. How do we affect change on a grassroots level? The answer is on many levels.

AIDSfreeAFRICA has been educating Cameroonians on how the disease is spread. First the mosquito is born disease-free. The mosquito then finds a person to bite, sucking up a sample of their blood, which has Plasmodium falciparum (which is the
malaria parasite.) The mosquito is not affected by the parasite, but when this mosquito bites another person, thus begins the disease process of malaria. The parasites multiply in the blood, feeding on its host’s red blood cells. This life cycle of the parasite in the host is particularly deadly in children, since children have less blood than adults.

Inspired by the recent Ebola outbreak, which taught Africans to separate the healthy from the ill person, the initiative AIDSfreeAFRICA is implementing to prevent malaria is to cover windows and doors with mosquito nets, thus preventing mosquitoes from entering the house. This a simple initiative requiring only a few supplies, such as a hammer, saw, nails, and a mosquito net We instruct the villagers to measure the window and use these measurements to cut out a mosquito net to fit a little bigger than the window itself. They then place the net over the entire window and secure it in place by nailing thin strips of plywood over the frame. One might think this would be a simple endeavor; however, we have felt some resistance from the village community. Some community members would rather use their nets to protect their crops from bugs and parasites. This can often be a difficult argument to make since most villagers live off the crops they grow. We encourage them to keep their homes and family safe first, and then use any leftover nets for the fields. Most recently, we have seen a steep uptake of the program. We are looking forward to the day when we will see a
statistically significant drop in Malaria cases.

Monday, September 18, 2017

A Laboratory of One’s Own

AIDSfreeAFRICA is a 501-c-3 non-profit organization working in West Africa, Cameroon since 2005. We focus on supporting pharmaceutical drug production. Over the years we have consulted seven pharmaceutical startups, delivered production equipment and helped with drug access. We support STEM education mainly by donating chemistry glassware and equipment to universities and high schools. Everything we have done in the past twelve years was to support existing institutions in Cameroon.

Now we decided is a good time to change this model. We borrowed the title of Virgina Woolf’s book “A Room of One’s Own” to announce that AIDSfreeAFRICA is building its own laboratory - for quality control of pharmaceutical drugs, water, and other useful chemistry. We are looking for a few courageous people to join us to teach hands-on science in Cameroon.

Qualifications needed:
  • Science background, such as a teacher, professor, or industrial scientist.
  • Ability to plan an experiment, and the ability to gather and bring all the equipment needed for its execution.
  • Ability to raise money for trip expenses.
  • Ability to adapt to the impossible, to embrace the unexpected, to tolerate a high level of uncertainty, inconvenience an personal discomfort (lack of conveniences we take for granted in America).
  • Can devote time from now to May 2018 to prepare for this opportunity.
  • Ability to spend 3-6 weeks between May 15 and July 15, 2018 in Cameroon.

Visit the AIDSfreeAFRICA website, blog, and Facebook page and send us your CV and proposal a for your teaching project to and

Thank you,
Dr. Rolande Hodel