Monday, January 14, 2008

Production in Cameroon

I admit, it is not on the scale or level where we in the US think of "production" but it is much when one considers where I am. And thus in the eleventh hour there are the soft beginnings of pharmaceutical production.
Six Chemicals and distilled water is needed. Three Chemicals came from the US via plane, the other three - in equal amount but not equal quantity came from Nigeria.


Distilled water was supposed to be available on site, however, in the middle of production I double checked with the lab technician to make sure he did not use tap water. "Oh, we need to use distilled water? The distillers burners are burned out." And yes, they have to be ordered from the US. No way the distill is up and running before I go home Jan. 27th. I call a friend in Bamenda and ask him to buy me 40 L distilled water from the Government Hospital. Then I take a bus to go and fetch the water to carry it to Mutengene. Each way, the bus trip is 6-8 hours. And I pray that the distiller works in Bamenda.

Before I catch the bus the technician "graduates" a Tuber ware houshold plastic container which we proudly bought for US$ 10.00. He uses a one liter graduated analytical graduated glass flask. To double check we put it on a scale. A liter was missing, but as long as we catch these little hick ups I am fine.

The bucket is filled and since I have a day left before climbing on the bus we try ourselves on issues of quality control. Of course I had brought some already done solution from last year and of course the standard. I also brought some water already with me and a pH meter and our best piece a US$ 200 electrode donated by AIDSfreeAFRICA's Chemist Elliott. But the master piece is already there. There is no water but a brand new ion-selective pH meter. We have all we need. I just have to come back from Bamenda with the 40 L of clean water. Make the solution and leave it up to Clectus to fill these 50 containers. Voila: 1000 L of a diagnostic solution, produced and quality controlled in Cameroon under the Diamond Pharmaceutical name.


We also hired 4 people - creating jobs for the Cameroonians that brave school knowing that there is little employment opportunity to look forward to.
As the US Ambassador said to us when we visited in Yaounde. "Cameroonians will be so proud when they learn that their country is producing pharmaceuticals." Yes, so will I.

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