HHI Workshop strengthens Pathways for PWDs to access Healthcare
More Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) are needed in the West and Adamawa regions of Cameroon to access hospital-based care and benefit from support from the Hope and Healing International (HHI) projects pegged under the CBC Health Services’ Socio-Economic Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (SEEPD) program. A three-day workshop held in Bafoussam from October 24-26, 2022 to empower stakeholders to redouble efforts in searching and identifying PWDs who are eligible to be supported by HHI within the one-year campaign period.
Declaring the workshop open, the HHI Projects Coordinator, Rev. Ekwo Emmanuel outlined the objectives of the workshop being to provide hope and healing to persons with disability especially children, brainstorm on strategies to meet the project targets and develop a realistic referral pathway among others. He called on the participants, mainly PT and CBR workers on day one, Community Based Organizations (CBOs) on day two and Organizations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs), religious and traditional authorities on day three to redefine their messages to communities and families with PWDs by engaging them to partner with the program in ameliorating the health challenges of their children with disabilities.
Rev. Ekwo explained that HHI supports five projects within the SEEPD program for a period of one year running from July 2022 to June 2023. He challenged the stakeholders to take advantage of this initiative by working hard to meet the project targets of identifying 65 or more women and girls 18 years and below and 200 children with musculoskeletal (bone) diseases who can benefit from ‘free’ surgical intervention within the project duration.
“It is better for us to identify more cases and we lack the funds to treat them than identifying less than the target number and we are required to return the funds to the sponsors,” Rev. Ekwo encouraged. He clarified that the support is not 100 free but a partnership which the family of the PWD is required to make an effort to borne at least the transport and feeding expenses during the period in hospital.
Mr. Fabombi Dickson, Administrator of Bafoussam Baptist Hospital added his voice to that of the HHI Coordinator by admonishing stakeholders to take their responsibilities seriously. He charged them to help their community members by referring them early to hospital where they can receive appropriate care.
Day one of the workshop focused on the Integrated approach to Managing Disabilities from Musculosketal Deformities in Children 0-18 years in the West and Adamawa regions. Mr. Fandon Timothy, CBCHS Physiotherapy Supervisor and Mr. Che Manasseh, Coordinator of the Musculoskeletal Project educated the stakeholders on the various deformities that can be treated through surgery.
Dr. Ntungwe Ekwelle of Bafoussam Baptist Hospital and Mrs. Kenchi Hope, senior midwife and CBCHS MCH Coordinator presented on obstetric fistula, which they defined as a child birth injury that leaves women incontinent (passing) out urine and or stool uncontrollable) through the vagina due mainly to difficult and prolonged labour. They named other factors to include: child and forced marriages, home births, late access to obstetric care, rape and sexual violence among others. The consequences are shame, social isolation and stigmatization etc.
The following Treatment Centers of obstetric fistula are: Nkwen Baptist Hospital, Mbingo Baptist Hospital, Baptist Hospital Banyo, Ngounso Baptist Health Center and Bafoussam Baptist Hospital.
Boyo Maurine, Child Protection Officer of the Socio-Economic Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (SEEPD) program resounded that children especially those with disabilities have rights just like adults do. “Rights of children must be protected because it is a crime punishable by law,” Mrs. Boyo stressed.
Maurine posited that a minor according to Cameroon law, is anybody below the age of 18 and below the age of 25 for those with disability in the context of the CBC Health Services. She pointed out that these children go through physical, psychological and sexual abuse including rape. The West and Adamawa regions, she highlighted, have a culture of early marriages, which is a major cause of child abuse. Our attitude towards children such as calling them names like ‘my wife’ when they have no notion about marriage is a driver for abuse when the perpetuator has the opportunity.
The OPD leaders, traditional and religious authorities were particularly concerned with the rampant cases of child abuse in their regions resulting from early child marriage. For this reason, they pledged to redouble their community influence in bringing the ill to the barest minimum through sensitization and taking positive actions to stop it.