To improve the quality of life of persons living with impairments and disabilities in the North West Region of Cameroon, and to support health and social service workers in their practices.
Many people with disabilities or illnesses in the North West Region of Cameroon could benefit from rehabilitation and health promotion interventions including occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy and related fields. Rehabilitation is an important but often overlooked aspect of health care in countries with developing systems. Despite progress made by dedicated individuals in the field, rehabilitation services remain under-funded, there is little professional development, and very little has been published in the academic literature regarding rehabilitation in Cameroon.
In light of these needs, the focus of ICDR-Cameroon is the improvement of the quality of life of people with disabilities and the promotion of health, the advancement and expansion of rehabilitation services, and the sharing of information and technical expertise between rehabilitation professionals in Cameroon and in Canada to benefit the North West Region of Cameroon. Our goal is that through research and educational initiatives in both countries, disability and rehabilitation will acquire a more prominent position in health care programs and services in Cameroon, and outcomes will improve. ICDR-Cameroon members volunteer their services, and we work with a very small budget.
Participatory and collaborative methods, such as online communication, volunteer and student field visits, regular group meetings, and other forums for discussion, are used to identify actual and potential research, education, and service projects. Several research and educational projects have been conducted, and more are underway. These include projects on assistive devices, mental health, food security, organizational development, and a variety of interventions. Administrators and rehabilitation practitioners in the North West region have increased their capacity to reflect on practice, and to engage in research and evaluation.
ICDR-Cameroon activities have included:
- Co-Hosting the annual Bamenda Conference on Disability and Rehabilitation
- Workshops and other events on a variety of topics (e.g. burns management, mental illness, professional models of practice) have been held with rehabilitation professionals in Cameroon
- Launching and supporting The Centre for Inclusion Studies in Bamenda (previously the Bamenda Coordinating Centre for Studies in Disability and Rehabilitation)
- The Closing the Gaps project, which addressed HIV, AIDS, Disability and Rehabilitation, was successfully completed.
- Education of students and volunteers in Canada regarding health and rehabilitation services in Cameroon.
- The Workshop on Peace in Cameroon was held with scholars, journalists, non-government organizations, and other experts to identify non-violent measures to protect lives in Cameroon. The final report is available here.
Julius Nganji, Co-Chair
Lynn Cockburn, Co-Chair
Christian Noumi, Vice-Chair Finance
The Cameroonian partners have expressed satisfaction and enthusiasm with the initiative, have made suggestions for improvements, and have requested ongoing collaboration. The Canadian partners have made a commitment to continue to develop the collaboration.
CUAPWD Coordinating Unit of Associations of Persons with Disabilities
The Coordinating Unit of Associations of Persons with Disabilities (CUAPWD) is an organization that serves as a network for associations of persons with disability and other stakeholders in the North West Region of Cameroon. ICDR-Cameroon has partnered with the CUAPWD for several projects such as educational and advocacy workshops, organizational development, and research studies.
Founded in 2005 and legalized in 2007, the Unit’s mission is “networking, coordinating and training of Disabled Peoples Organizations (DPOs), institutions and common initiative groups working with persons with disabilities to create an enabling and inclusive environment for all”. CUAPWD is promoting disability as a cross cutting issue in social and community initiatives, with its activities covering all ages. The CUAPWD has adopted Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) (WHO, 2010) as a holistic approach for the achievement of its goals and objectives.
The CUAPWD is located in Bamenda, North West Region of Cameroon, Savanna Street, telephone number is +237 677 387 731, Email firstname.lastname@example.org Facebook: https:www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009461920210&fref=ts
ICDR-Cameroon has been supporting Canadian occupational therapy students to have placements in NWR since 2004. For the past several placements, students have been based in the city of Bamenda and have had a placement shared between 2 small organizations: 3-4 days per week at the Saint Joseph’s Children and Adult Home (SAJOCAH) rehabilitation centre doing individual and group therapy, and 1-2 days per week doing community development work in Bamenda. We have found that the placement works best when the first week is a structured orientation, and that it generally takes another 2 weeks or so for students to learn enough about the context of practice to feel comfortable. Therefore placements should be a minimum of 7 weeks. These organizations often have a few other international students, volunteers, and professionals present, which contributes to the learning experience. ICDR-Cameroon is currently not hosting ICI placements, for more information please contact Lynn Cockburn.
Available Placements for Interested Student Researchers
Opportunities for students to be involved in research vary, but we usually have opportunities for the following types of volunteer contributions:
- Assistance with reviews of academic literature
- Translations (English – French; English- Pidgin; English – sign language; English – Cameroon languages)
- Organizing research meetings and taking meeting notes
- Data collection (e.g., surveys, interviews)
- Data analysis
- Knowledge mobilization and translation e.g., short videos, user guides, infographics
- Assistance with writing and preparing conference presentations and peer review papers
- Smartphones research project on “Facilitating the use of smartphones for the social and economic empowerment of visually impaired people in a low resource context.”
- Literature review on “How conflict and trauma affect cognition and learning in university students in conflict zones.”
- Accessibility at the University of Bamenda – Several documents have been developed to support improved student accessibility
- PIRL Project Website and YouTube Channel
PIRL Podcasts https://oticlab.utoronto.ca/welcome-to-the-inclusive-research-with-pirl-podcast/
Stuck in the Middle Podcasts https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYqBui7pmok
Burris, S., Pacholek, K., Prostean, M., Cockburn, L., Nganji, J., Nadege, A.N., and Mbibeh, L. (2021). “A WhatsApp virtual community of practice: Mental health education and support for practitioners during the Anglophone Crisis in Cameroon”. Disability and the Global South, Vol.8, No. 2, 2094-2115.
Cockburn, L., Hashemi, G., Noumi, C., Ritchie, A., Skead, K. (2017). Realizing the educational rights of children with disabilities: An overview of inclusive education in Cameroon.8 (6), 1 -11. http://www.iiste.org/Journals/index.php/JEP/article/view/35478
Lee S, Cockburn L, Nganji JT. Exploring the use of #MyAnglophoneCrisisStory on Twitter to understand the impacts of the Cameroon Anglophone Crisis. Media, War & Conflict. June 2022. doi:10.1177/17506352221103487
Lee, S., Nganji, J.T. & Cockburn, L. (2021) Using Twitter to Understand the Effects of the Cameroon Anglophone Crisis on Social Determinants of Health, Medicine, Conflict and Survival, 37:3, 221-247, DOI: 10.1080/13623699.2021.1955759
Mbuagbaw, L. and Cockburn, L. (2017). Challenges and opportunities in country-specific research synthesis: a case study from Cameroon.Systematic Reviews, 6:159, https://doi.org/10.1186/s13643-017-0552-1
Nganji, J., Murray, E., Lee, S., Cameron, D., Cockburn, L., Chowdhury, A., Davis, J.A., Sikapa, L.L., Mbibeh, L., and Sukhai, M. (2022). Challenges to Technology-Enhanced Collaborative Learning in a Disability-Inclusive Research Partnership: The Case of the PIRL Project. In: Technology-Enabled Innovations in Education Select Proceedings of CIIE 2020. Springer, 372p
Nganji, J.T. and Cockburn, L. (2020). Use of Twitter in the Cameroon Anglophone Crisis. Behaviour & Information Technology, 39:3, 267-287, DOI: 10.1080/0144929X.2019.1620333.
Okwen, M. Signe, J., MacPella, M., Mbibeh, L. and Cockburn, L. (2018). Professional collaboration for vision and health care, Cameroon African Journal of Vision and Eye Health. 77 (1). a434 doi: https://doi.org/10.4102/aveh.v77i1.434 https://avehjournal.org/index.php/aveh/article/view/434
Pacholek, K., Prostean, M., Burris, S., Cockburn, L., Nganji, J., Anya, N.N., & Mbibeh, L. (2021). A WhatsApp community forum for improving critical thinking and practice skills of mental health providers in a conflict zone, Interactive Learning Environments, DOI: 10.1080/10494820.2021.1890622
Ray, M., Wallace, L., Mbuagbaw, L., Cockburn, L. (2017). Functioning and disability in recent research from Cameroon: a narrative synthesis.Pan African Medical Journal, 27(1). 27:73.doi:10.11604/pamj.2017.27.73.12167 http://www.panafrican-med-journal.com/content/article/27/73/full/#.WZqC5iiGPIU
Pacholek, K., Prostean, M., Burris, S., Cockburn, L., Nganji, J., Nadege, A., & Mbibeh, L. (2022). ‘The Forum’: A WhatsApp support group for health and social service providers during the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon. In I. Hassan & J. Hitchen (Eds.). WhatsApp and Everyday Life in West Africa: Beyond Fake News (pp. 87–110). London,: Zed Books. http://dx.doi.org/10.5040/9781350257900.ch-5
- Kenchi J., Chirac AJ., Cockburn L. (2016). Celebrating 3 Decades of CBR in Cameroon.2nd CBR World Congress – Empowering and Enabling Community actions towards human rights and sustainable development through CBR, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
- Cockburn L., Chirac AJ., Mbibeh L., Tonain NP. The GRID Network – Groups for Rehabilitation and Inclusive Development. (2016). Building Communities of Practice for Rehabilitation and Inclusive Development in the North West Region of Cameroon.McGill University. Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
- Cockburn L., Ritchie A., Hashemi G., Noumi C., Skead K., Lukong E. (2015). Education and children with disabilities in Cameroon: – An overview of the emerging field of inclusive education research.The Second Biennial Inclusive Education conference in West and Central Africa. Buea, South-West, Cameroon.
- June 1. Cockburn L,Wango J, Benuh E, Anjonga E, Mukong N, Chow K, Kiani S, Manaseh C, Nyincho S. Best practices in Africa: Cameroonian experiences in developing rehabilitation guidelines.CAOT conference, Quebec City, Poster Presentation.
- Nov 30. Cockburn L, and members of the BCCSDR Best Practices in Rehabilitation Team. The Importance of Best Practices: Learning and Doing. Extended Panel presentation, 2011 Bamenda Conference on Disability and Rehabilitation, Bamenda, North West Region, Cameroon.
- Nov 15. Cockburn L, Wango J, Benuh E, Cleaver S. The prevalence of impairments and disabilities in the North West Region of Cameroon 2011.Global Health Conference, Montreal, Quebec.
- Nov 15. Wango J, Njitor A, Cockburn L, Achiniegeh R, Nyingcho S, Hashemi G, Benuh E. Towards inclusive global health research: Lessons learned from disability and rehabilitation research in Cameroon. 2011 Global Health Conference, Montreal, Quebec.
- May 14. Wango J, Njitor A, Cockburn L, Achiniegeh R, Nyingcho S, Hashemi G, Benuh E. Towards Inclusive Community-based Research: Lessons learned from disability and rehabilitation research in Cameroon. Skill building workshop. CU Expo Community—University Partnerships: Bringing Global Perspectives to Local Action”, Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada.
- July 23. Cockburn L. The Responses of Bamenda Disability Organizations to HIV and AIDS: A Multiple Case Study.XVIII International AIDS Conference, Vienna.
- May 4. Hashemi G, Cockburn L, Suffling K, Wilson K, Mue P, Benuh P, Yuh S, Muso P, Wango J. Developing occupational therapy and occupational perspectives in the North West Region of Cameroon: Reflections on 5 years of partnership in rehabilitation.WFOT Congress, Santiago, Chile. Poster.
- Jan 29. Cockburn L. Sexuality and Everyday Life: Inclusion and Disability Activism in the North West Region of Cameroon. Invited speaker, ICDR symposium, Toronto, ON.
- Cockburn L, Suffling K, Wilson K, Mue P, Benuh P, Yuh S, Muso P, Chow K, Aspiras H, Schultz T, Hashemi G, Wango J. Developing occupational therapy and occupational perspectives in the North West Region of Cameroon: Reflections on 5 years of partnership in rehabilitation.OTARG Congress ~ Occupational Therapy Africa Regional Group. Poster.
- June 21. Bremer K, Cockburn L, Acheinegeh R. A Research Study on the Reproductive Health Experiences of Women with Disabilities in the North West Region. Poster presented in the Research and Innovation Program at the SOGC ACM 2009 (Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada Annual Clinical Meeting), Halifax, NS.
- June 9. Cockburn L. The Responses of Bamenda Disability Organizations to HIV/AIDS: A Collective Case Study. Canadian Public Health Association 2009 Annual Conference Public Health in Canada: Strengthening Connections, Winnipeg Convention Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba.
- Apr 26. Bremer K, Cockburn L, Acheinegeh R. A Research Study on the Reproductive Health Experiences of Women with Disabilities in the North West Region, Poster presented at the Comprehensive Research Experience for Medical Students (CREMS) Medical Student Research Day.
- Dec 5. Bremer K, Cockburn L, Acheinegeh R. A Research Study on the Reproductive Health Experiences of Women with Disabilities in the North West Region. Presented at the Bamenda Conference on Disability and Rehabilitation.
- Aug 17. Cockburn L. Building a Collaborative Community Based Disability and Rehabilitation Research Program in the North West Province.Paper presented at the Bamenda Conference on Disability and Rehabilitation.
- July 11. Hashemi G, Cockburn L. Disability related policies and resources in North West Province, Cameroon.Paper presented at the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists conference.
- July 28. Cockburn L. Best Practice and Evidence Based Practice in Rehabilitation Settings. 2006 Bamenda Conference on Disability and Rehabilitation, July 28, 2006, Bamenda, North West Province, Cameroon.
- Apr 23. Cockburn L. Inclusion, Disability and Rehabilitation: Collaborations in Cameroon.Canadian Association of African Studies Conference. Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
- Suffling K, Lenz P, Tih T, Cockburn L, Hashemi G.Introducing occupational therapy to rehabilitation services in a Cameroon hospital, Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists Annual Conference, Vancouver, B.C.
Conference Proceedings and International Workshops
Cockburn, L., Awa Jacques Chirac, Mbibeh Louis, and Ngong Peter Tonain. (2016). The GRID Network -Groups for Rehabilitation and Inclusive Development. Building Communities of Practice for Rehabilitation and Inclusive Development in the North West Region of Cameroon. Podium Presentation, McGill University. Montreal, Quebec, Canada. 2016 Mar 12.
Cockburn, L., Mbibeh Louis, Julius Nganji, Awa Jacques Chirac, Kennedy Nonki, Sanhee Han Title: Using assistive technology to improve communication, knowledge, and skills in communities of practice and disability inclusive development. Podium presentation. AfriNEAD conference – Ghana, August 7 – 9, 2017
Kenchi, Joseph, Lynn Cockburn, Mbibeh Louis, Jacques Chirac Awa, Peter Mue, Ezekiel Benuh, Goli Hashemi. The GRID Network: A CBR Community of Practice. Podium Presentation, 2nd CBR World Congress – Empowering and Enabling Community actions towards human rights and sustainable development through CBR, September 26-29, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Mbibeh L., Nganji J.T., Cockburn L.B., et al. (2021). The PIRL Project: A case study of learning how to do disability inclusive research. Disability design and innovation in low resource settings. Workshop at CHI2021.
Nganji, J.T. et al., “Smartphones as Alternatives to Computers for Learning and Collaboration in a Multinational Disability-Inclusive Community of Practice,” 2021 Machine Learning-Driven Digital Technologies for Educational Innovation Workshop, 2021, pp. 1-8, doi: 10.1109/IEEECONF53024.2021.9733748.
ICDR-Cameroon is delighted to be involved with and to support the annual Bamenda Conference on Disability and Rehabilitation held each year in November or early December. Here are the proceedings from past conferences. Please note that the Bamenda Conference was not held in 2015 (an evaluation conference was held instead) or in 2016. The next one is planned for November 2017. http://www.disabilityconferencebamenda.net/
Practice Guidelines: Members of ICDR-Cameroon have worked with the SEEPD program of the Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Board, the Coordinating Unit of Associations of Persons with Disabilities, the Bamenda Coordinating Centre for Disability and Rehabilitation, and many other groups to create practice guidelines for use in the North West Region of Cameroon. Here are a sample of our projects:
- Assessment of Children for Visual Impairment
- Assessment of Children for Hearing Impairment
- Family Centred Care for Children with Disabilities
- Stroke Rehabilitation
- Vocational Rehabilitation
For more information, please contact Lynn Cockburn.