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 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.
Saint Joseph’s Children and Adult Home (SAJOCAH) is a rehabilitation centre located in Bafut, a village approximately 30 miles north of Bamenda. SAJOCAH is operated by the Tertiary Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi (the Catholic Church) and works in collaboration with Mambu Health Centre and Njinikom Hospital. SAJOCAH provides rehabilitation in the form of physiotherapy and vocational training to individuals with neurological and orthopaedic impairment from all over Cameroon. The centre has an onsite orthopaedic workshop as well as cane, shoe and dress-making workshops run by people with disabilities. SAJOCAH also runs a school for students who are visually impaired. ICDR-Cameroon has worked in partnership with SAJOCAH since 2006 and continues to work towards creating a sustainable Occupational Therapy presence through fieldwork placements, education and research.
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.
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
Mental Health: Our approach to mental health work has been to gradually develop an understanding of what works well, and developing our own practice guidelines. Contact us if you are interested in learning more about our work in this area.
Literature Review: We have built a diverse team of people who are interested in reviewing health related research from Cameroon. Stay tuned for publications coming later in 2015!
We have several other interests and projects underway so please contact us if you would like more information.
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.
For more information, please contact Lynn Cockburn.