CBCHS/EDID program charge Cameroon Journalists to mainstream disability inclusion in reporting

By Wawa Jackson Nfor Lamu

Over 25 Journalists drawn from at least four regions of Cameroon have been drilled and tasked to factor the interest of disabled persons in their reporting. This was during a capacity building serminar organized Friday January 5, 2024 at the Baptist Resource Center in Yaounde by the Empowerment and Disability Inclusive Developmen (EDID) program of the Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services (CBCHS) in partnership with Lilian Foundation.
Representing the Director of CBC Health Services, Awah Jacques Chirac, who was one of the facilitators called on journalists to take the lead in raising awareness in the #rehabilitation services.

“We expect the journalists to lead in raising awareness and demand for rehabilitation services.we recognize the role the media has in behavior change #communication, sensitizing and promoting uptake of services,” said Awah Jacques Chirac adding that, “we are trusting haven organized this workshop and bringing to the attention ,the investments CBC  health service and her partners have done in developing human resource training programs in rehabilitation but also the services promoting disabilities both in terms of  treatment ,prevention and rehabilitation at the level of health facilities.”

In 2017, the World Health Organization, (#WHO) launched a call to action code named rehabilitation 2030.The initiative draws attention to the unmet need for rehabilitation world wide and highlights the importance of strengthening health systems to provide rehabilitation.

“One key expectation is for the journalists to go out there and change the narrative and make it trend.But more importantly to do that as part of the wider call for rehabilitation 2030 which the #WHO launched in 2017,” he went on stressing that, “The media should recognize that the government of Cameroon through the ministries of health and social affairs are fully involved in the campaign for rehabilitation 2030 and should accompany the government in making sure that it does not end as a campaign on paper.”
With the growing need of rehabilitation services, he stated that, “In terms of the realities on the ground, we will see those in the last mile, in the margins of society and those in need of rehabilitation services will have increased access to providers that are trained and well developed services”

With full knowledge acquired, participants pledged to mainstream disability and inclusion in their reporting as the the workshop came to a close.

“It was a wonderful opportunity for us today to sit down and receive lessons from the CBC on rehabilitation reporting which is most of the time ignored in the press.We learnt lots of concepts.we were able to  identify the difference between impairment and when impairment becomes a disability,” Said Boh Elvis of My Media Prime Television

He added that, “We were able to understand some key theories like the twin track theory,that is reporting about the person before the community atlarge.We were able to understand that it is important for us to tell these stories because these are people that are in the hinterlands and their stories are not told in the media.It was a great opportunity and an assignment for us journalist to go back to our various newsrooms to see how we can do to suggest story ideas to be able to inform the society about rehabilitation which is some areas is considered to be linked to witchcraft” 

Reacting, Abengho Clenice Ayombom of CRTV North West said, “This workshop has really opened my mind to understand the gaps that exist in the fight for #disability and inclusion.I have also understood that there are different ways by which we can bridge thes gaps as media persons involving the government, stakeholders, service providers and every other sector. We are the ones to actually push them into walking the talk that has been said so far.” 

It is worth noting that the rehabilitation program of CBC health services has a total of 5000 direct beneficiaries being children and youngsters with disabilities aged 0-25 years, 2000 persons with disabilities and over 1500 indirect beneciaries each year
One of the beneficiaries and Community Base Rehabiltation worker  Rodrique Biloa who took part in the workshop stated that the exercise was so enriching  and that partnering with the media will go a long way to facilitate their work in the communities.

“This workshop made me understand many things which I could not imagine. I now understand that with a community network ,we can achieve several objectives at a time including working with journalists. If journalists  take the leessons from this workshop seriously, it will facilitate work for us in the community in achieving inclusion which is the major objective for us by bypassing the barriers that make these children suffer in the community,” said Rodrique Biloa

“In collaboration with journalists,working as network,we can easily reach out to people who can help.Some of them are there and do not know what to do but with messages from journalists,this can be facilitated and together with other services such as physiotherapist and psychotherapists,we can easily achieve inclusion in our community,’ he quipped.
The one day training workshop also provided an opportunity for the selected media professionals to acquaint themselves with the rehabilitation situation in Cameroon and the work of CBC Health services and her partners.

The EDID program, whose main goal is to improve the quality of life and full participation of children with disabilities works with over twenty three partners in nine regions of Cameroon implementing  the Community Base Rehabilitation, CBR, strategy as a means to achieve inclusive development.

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