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A life-changing experience in Cameroon

Imagine delivering triplets in an African village so remote it can be reached only on foot or by helicopter. Or analyzing "verbal autopsies"—accounts by African families of a relative's death—in an effort to determine a diagnosis. Students from Dartmouth and other medical schools are doing such work in Cameroon, where their mentor is Munro Proctor, M.D., a retired adjunct associate professor of medicine at DMS and cofounder of the Concord, N.H., Clinic.

DMS faculty member Munro Proctor, left, has spent three to four months every year working in Cameroon ever since his retirement. Here, he shows an image on his digital camera to a group of Cameroonian villagers.

Proctor is now a contact for medical students across the country who wish to do a fourth-year elective overseas. After retiring in 1989 from a 32-year career practicing cardiology and internal medicine in Concord, Proctor earned his M.P.H. and since then has been spending three to four months every year working in (and bringing students to) two large Baptist mission hospitals in Cameroon.

Andrea Siddons Cedfeldt, a recent DMS graduate, worked with Proctor there treating AIDS patients. Her primary charge was to create a computer program for monitoring mother-tochild transmission of the AIDS virus after administration of the drug Nevirapine. In Cameroon, the transmission rate averages 30% if the mother is HIV-positive. When Nevirapine is administered to the mother during labor and to the baby within 72 hours of birth, the transmission rate is cut to 15%.

For the medical students who get to spend time in Cameroon, the experience can be life-changing. "They tend to see things that they have never seen before," explains Proctor. "Typhoid is not common around here, and it's very common over there. Malaria, river blindness, Guinea worm—all these things that Jimmy Carter has been trying to eradicate—it's an exciting clinical experience."


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