Friday, July 20, 2012

COL Cameroon Link Story Design Strategy Shared In Yaounde

By Ojong Helen Ayamba Email:
The Sub Director for Food and Nutrition of the ministry of public health, Okala George, presided over a one-day workshop to share COL Cameroon Link story design strategy, as part of preparations towards the planning and organization of the 2012 World Breastfeeding Week. The 24 participants came from Ebolowa, Edea, Mambanda, Bonamikano, Biyem Assi, Bojongo, Nvog Ada, Nkomba, Mbalmayo, Douala and Yaoundé communities.
Key facilitators were Tagoue Madelene, chief of service for dietetics and nutrition, Mahop Estelle Laure of the department for health promotion and James Achanyi-Fontem, Coordinator of COL Cameroon Link partnership. Okala Georges in his address to the participants reiterated the fact that 2012 is a special year because the WHO and UNICEF are celebrating the Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding launched 10 years ago and the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action, WABA, is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the World Breastfeeding Week(WBW). WBW is celebrated each year in over 172 countries and the ministry of public health, André Mama Fouda, will be launching the mass event in Cameroon at the Health District Hospital in Biyem Assi, a neighbourhood of the capital of Yaoundé City. To understand the past and plan for the future, the COL Cameroon Link partnership liaison made a feed of the activities undertaken since 2011, which gave room for exchanges and how these story design strategy is expected to be scaled up from this year with the support of UNICEF and the Commonwealth of Learning. UNICEF, the Commonwealth of Learning in Vancouver, Canada and WABA Secretariat in Penang, Malaysia with the involvement of health promotion stakeholders designed and produced social mobilization and sensitization for sharing during the mass event in Biyem Assi-Yaoundé and in the different health areas of Cameroon. Each participant was allowed to share past experiences and to propose the strategies put in place for scaling up community of learning within families and the communities in a way to support mother and child health care, fight against malnutrition of mothers and children below 5 years of age. While Cameroon Link shared the experience of using Lebialem community radio as a channel for open distance learning and story design programming to support mother and child health care, the sub director for food and nutrition said activities from 2012 will be guided by the evolution of technologies. This will serve as a mean of sharing essential messages for the promotion of infant and young child feeding. This will also assist Cameroon to tune to the rapid changes in the means of communication technologies for reaching many through mobiles and especially the youths. Context and justification Since the 1990s, efforts deployed by the different stakeholders to promote infant and young child feeding and especially exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months led to an increase from 1% to 21% in 2004, while initiation within the first one hour moved from 11.5% in 1991 to 20% in 2006. The paradox is that 29% of infant below one year die of malnutrition and poor practices of breastfeeding. The Cameroon ministry of public health and its partners would like to use the opportunities offered by the community f learning strategies to sensitize national public opinion on the advantages of exclusive breastfeeding and better maternal care. The objective fixed by 2015 is to increase the level of breastfeeding from 21% to 65% qualitatively. To achieve this objective, community of learning stakeholders have to reinforce training and open distance learning opportunities, increase information and education of the populations, especially the parents, mothers and youths through the use of community radio and mobile technologies now available in many households. Scaling up community of learning in Cameroon will be associated to activities including the briefings of health staff, organization of educative talks, the use of sports events to reach many during sensitization, training on story design programming, promotion of youth health clubs to animate health dramas, concerts, organization of radio quiz and public conferences on the protection of mother and child health care. To scale up activities, partnership strategies have included mobile telephone enterprises for sending out key messages on infant and young child feeding to all their subscribers during World Breastfeeding Week, the use of community radio for story design, while UNICEF, WABA and COL Cameroon Link partnership have produced communication materials, t-shirts, folders, flyers, exercise books with key messages on their covers and promotion banners. Policy makers of public, private and traditional institutions would be involved in advocacy drives in a way to lobby support for mother and child health care in Cameroon. Local health associations involved for the scaling up phase at national level are CIFAS Yaoundé, CASAMAC Ebolowa, NORFOWOP(No Limit for Women’s Projects) Biyem Assi, AFFE Mbalmayo, Alternative Santé Yaoundé, COGESID Bonaberi, Association of Nurses and Mid wives, and Association of Radio Broadcasters. Difficulties in project delivery During the exchange and sharing workshop, participants used the opportunity to discuss the role of the ministry of public health in Cameroon as the architect of health coverage, the purchaser of services and as a partnership promoter, at a time community of learning goes national. As scaling up of activities focus on durable and sustainability of project outcomes and impact, partnership development in Cameroon is hanging on innovative considerations and this requires a promotion approach with respect to the various stakeholders involved in the health system. The difficulties encountered in the delivery of community of learning activities through training and radio story design in Lebialem included poor state of road infrastructure for accessing enclave areas, few trained staff at the community radio station with more untrained volunteer broadcasters with university degrees, unstable supply of energy and irregular and snail internet access, lack of local enterprises to patronize health care programmes and low income of the local populations of Lebialem. Considering these difficulties, the ministry of public health is taking up its role to mastermind the innovative partnership strategy that would guarantee sustainability of investment in the health sector by its national and international partners. It was agreed that the contributions of other partners in active resource mobilization is having great impact and working positively in complementarily with the ministry of health. This mobilization concerns grassroot communities and civil society organizations, advocacy action with the development partners and external financial resources. This exchange opportunity in Yaounde was followed up with a regional workshop of the Cameroon Health Sector Partnership Strategy from 2007 – 2015 in Douala, littoral region from the 19th – 21st July, 2012. Recommendations 1. Stakeholders of Community of Learning initiative in Cameroon should advocate for technical, financial and material support locally for increasing external assistance for the rapid expansion of the activities in other parts of the country. 2. Lobby should be undertaken in other national and international organizations supporting health activities in Cameroon to get support for mother and child health care. 3. Distribution of materials and transport for community outreach and training activities should be increased considering the recent increases in transport fares in Cameroon. 4. Reinforce training of volunteer broadcasters in rural community radio stations on the techniques of script writing and broadcasting as motivation for improved quality and quantitative programmes production on mother and child health care. 5. The Community of Learning initiative on radio story design programming should be scaled up in the littoral and West regions in 2012/2013 after a survey and selection of the active community radio stations with healthy community programmes.

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