A New Dawn for Rehabilitation Services in Cameroon: Baptist School of Public Health Celebrates the Graduation of Multi-skilled Rehabilitation Technicians and Community-Based Rehabilitation Workers
In a landmark achievement, the Baptist School of Public Health (BSPH) proudly celebrated the graduation of its inaugural cohort of Multiskilled Rehabilitation Technicians (MRTs) and Community-Based Rehabilitation (CBR) workers, in Palais de Sport Yaounde on November 24, 2023. This momentous occasion, held under the esteemed Minister of Social Affairs’ patronage, marked a pivotal step in addressing the shortage of qualified rehabilitation professionals in Cameroon and expanding access to quality rehabilitation services for persons with disabilities.
The colourful graduation is a testament to the dedication and hard work of the graduates and proof of the significant partnership between the Ministry of Social Affairs and the CBC Health Services, with important funding from the Liliana Foundation and AFAS Foundation through the EDID program. This also marks a significant milestone in the school’s commitment to empowering individuals to provide quality rehabilitation services to those in need.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 15% of the world’s population, or one billion people live with disabilities. In Cameroon, statistics indicate that 5.4% of the population, or approximately 1.4 million people live with disabilities. This translates to a significant need for qualified rehabilitation professionals to provide essential services to this underserved population.
Gracing the occasion as the chief guest, the Minister of Social Affairs who commended the BSPH for its commitment in nurturing a cadre of skilled rehabilitation professionals, highlighting the crucial role they play in promoting inclusive and accessible societies. “With the number of persons with disabilities, we have in the country and the limited number of centers or institutions skilled enough to cater for their welfare, the graduation of these MRTs and CBR workers is a significant milestone in our efforts to strengthen the rehabilitation workforce and improve the lives of individuals with disabilities. They are filling an important gap. In 2019, Cameroon recorded just 250 physiotherapists which is a very low value compared to the number of persons with disabilities. I advise you to be worthy professionals willing to change the lives of these persons for the better and bring smiles to the faces of families with this target group,” the Minister encouraged.
Echoing the Minister’s sentiments, the Executive President of the Cameroon Baptist Convention (CBC), Rev. Dr. Nditemeh Charlemagne applauded the graduates for their unwavering commitment to serving others, emphasizing the importance of Godly compassion and empathy in the field of rehabilitation. “Your work extends beyond technical expertise; it is a calling to make a difference in the lives of others,” the Executive President declared.
In a heartfelt address, the Director of Health Services praised the graduates for choosing to delve into rehabilitation, emphasizing the importance of delivering quality care to all, especially to persons with disabilities. “You must shine the light and be a beacon of hope to these persons. This is a higher calling and you have been taught the necessary skills to bring about positive change in Cameroon and the world,” Prof. Tih Pius stated.
A young university student who went through many perils as a child with a disability was presented to the entire public. She was identified by a CBR worker when she could not walk, abandoned by her family due to a mobility impairment and with the help of the EDID Program funded by the Liliane Foundation and AFAS Foundation, she can now walk with assistance, is an honor roll student in the university and has won the Miss Easter competition in school. She is proof of the work done by the rehabilitation technicians.
The graduation ceremony is evidence of the unwavering dedication and resilience of the graduates, who have undergone rigorous training in various aspects of rehabilitation, for a wide range of conditions. The MRT program equips graduates with the skills to work in community and primary healthcare settings, providing essential rehabilitation services to children and adults with disabilities. The CBR program emphasizes the importance of community engagement and collaboration, empowering graduates to work alongside community members to identify and refer individuals with disabilities to appropriate services.
The graduation of the first batch of Multiskilled Rehabilitation Technicians (MRTs) and Community-Based Rehabilitation (CBR) workers is not merely the culmination of a training program; it is the dawn of a new era in the landscape of rehabilitation services in Cameroon. Their expertise and dedication will undoubtedly make a profound impact on the lives of individuals with disabilities, creating a more inclusive and accessible society for all. As these graduates embark on their professional journeys, they carry with them the hopes and aspirations of those they will serve, empowered to transform lives and ignite a beacon of hope for a brighter future.