District Medical Officers (DMOs) in the NWR and Coordinators of Programmes at the Regional Delegation of Public Health have pledged their commitment to put in place measures that will improve on inclusive health care so that more persons with disabilities will access health services. They were speaking on June 8, 2017 at the Baptist Center in Bamenda during a workshop organized by the Socio Economic Empowerment of Persons with Disability (SEEPD) programme.
The objective of the workshop, which brought together 19 DMOs and 7 Coordinators of Programmes at the NW Regional Delegation of Public Health had as objective to introduce the concept of inclusive health and its role in improving public health services delivery.
Presenting an overview of the Services for Persons with Disabilities (SPD) of the CBC Health Services, the SEEPD Programme Manager, Mr. Awa Jacques Chirac noted that the SPD services is made up of the SEEPD programme, Empowerment Disability Inclusive and Development (EDID) programme and the Cameroon Clubfoot Care Project (CCCP), all geared towards improving on the quality of life of persons with disabilities.
In his presentation, the SEEPD Programme Officer, Mr. Chia Emmanuel highlighted that the prevalence of disability in the NWR according to Cockburn et al, (2011) and Mactaggart el al, (2014) is 6.7% and 10.2% respectively. Given that the disability prevalence in the Region is on an increase, it was quite disturbing to the medics who raised questions on what could be the causes of the increase so that it can properly be addressed.
The Medical Component of the SEEPD programme has as objective to prevent, treat and rehabilitate those with disabilities and those at risk of having disability. It is in line with this goal that the programme takes the services nearer to the poorest of the poor in different communities during its outreach activities.
According to the Community Based Rehabilitation Supervisor of the CBC Health Services Mr. Kenchi Joseph, the CBCHS has been working with different community stakeholders like Councils, some DMOs, health personnel, CBR field workers and volunteers in order to extend health services in the communities. The CBR Supervisor pointed out that more still needs to be done so that these services can meet everyone in the community. The Project Officer for SEEPD Medical Component, Mr. Fosi Boeoyoe added that despite the achievements, the programme faces challenges such as bureaucratic constraints in undertaking screenings in communities, schools and professional bodies as well as difficulties in obtaining rehabilitation materials and equipment.
Another facilitator, Dr. Lynn Cockburn linked the global health perspective to the NWR. SEEPD Education Advisor, Mrs. Fobuzie Bridget, for her part, took the medics through an inclusive session in which she emphasized that health care must be inclusive. She stressed the need for efforts to be made so that health care will be accessible to persons with disabilities in order to make them independent. She regretted that persons with disabilities face barriers of inaccessibility to health structures, information and even poverty.
With the knowledge on the situation of disability and barriers faced by persons with disability in the NWR to access care, the medics took commitments to collaborate with the SEEPD programme in other to address the situation. They look forward to creating awareness on disability issues and inclusive health delivery in their Coordination meetings with chiefs of health centres and carrying out advocacy to other community stakeholders who can facilitate access to health care services for persons with disabilities. The DMOs also promised their availability in facilitating the activities of the SEEPD programme in the community by using their available resources to improve on the inclusive health care.
The representative of the Regional Delegate of Public Health, Dr. Sama Julius, on behalf of the Delegate and DMOs appreciated the SEEPD programme for being an eye opener to them in the area of disability. He charged the participants to put hands on deck and get into work immediately as they go back to their district areas by ensuring that health care is accessed by all. He assured the availability of the Delegation in supporting the DMOs realize the objective of inclusive health delivery.
The initiative of the SEEPD programme to organize such a workshop has been lauded by the medics. They now know the situation of inclusive health care in the region, they have taken commitment to improve it, and it is expected that they fulfil the promises made at the workshop in the days ahead.