The former Director of Liliane Foundation and leader of the Support Tool Enabling Environment Approach (STEP) has described the CBC Health Services as one of the most committed Strategic Partner Organization (SPOs) of the Liliane Foundation. Kees Van Den Broek was speaking recently during his coaching visit to Cameroon with the objective to coach field workers and Physiotherapy staff on the STEP Approach of managing children with Cerebral Palsy (CP).
The STEP Approach which is implemented under the Empowerment Disability Inclusive Development Program (EDID) of the CBC Health Services has a goal to improve the quality of life and participation of caregivers and children with CP. It is a strategy to help parents of CP cope with the situation of the children through rehabilitation.
The STEP leader, one of the initiators of the Approach was accompanied to the field visits by the STEP African Coordinator from Uganda, Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) Services and Physiotherapy Supervisors of the CBC Health Services, CBR field workers of the different regions visited and the SEEPD Program Communication Officer.
In each of the regions visited, Kees and his team evaluated the understanding of the field workers on the STEP Approach with the objective to know the level of support that they needed. “I can rate my understanding of the STEP Approach at 6 on 10 because I just started practicing the Approach and it has been very challenging because the outcome is slow,” Constance Ngong, CBR field worker for Center Region expressed.
The team visited over 25 children with mild, moderate and severe CP in the West, Littoral and Center Regions. In each home, the field workers carried out assessments and provided interventions to the children to enable the visiting team to better evaluate their understanding and provide them with on the spot coaching. The field workers were coached on the rehabilitation, nutrition, hygiene, involvement of the parents, livelihood, education, and participation of CP children.
Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a permanent condition that is not fixable, it can only be managed. This has led many parents of children with CP into depression as they struggle on a daily basis to rehabilitate their children given that most interventions yield slow outcomes. Mirable Nformi is a 28-year-old mother to a child with CP. Her child, God’s gift is 3 years old but can’t walk, see, hear, sit and feed well. Her husband died when God’s gift was 2 years. Mirabel has been moving with her son from one hospital to another to seek medical help but the situation has never improved.
“I have quit my job just to take care of my son, my mother left Bamenda abandoned her job to come to help me take care of the child. Even though the situation is not improving at a fast pace, the STEP Approach has relieved me a bit and the counseling given me by the field worker has helped me to recollect myself,” Mirabel noted with a gloomy face.
The visit was characterized by workshops in Douala and Bafoussam with field workers and PT staff in attendance. Participants were schooled on how to make the Approach effective by using the STEP logbook which will guide and provide them with adequate information. The participants discussed ways forward, like the creation of a parent’s support group, awareness raising on CP and appointment of CP focal persons. Nsom Kenneth is one of the participants who expressed that after the lessons gained from the workshop, he will better manage children with CP.
At the end of the 2 weeks visit, Kees commended the CBC Health Services for the effort invested in ensuring the growth of the Approach. He noted that he is hopeful about the future of the project which will be evaluated in August 2019. Since the start of the Approach in Cameroon, over 80 children with CP have been enrolled on the STEP Approach list. The Approach is being piloted in 4 countries. According to the World Health Organization, 1 out of 300 children lives with CP.