Friday, February 22, 2013

Commonwealth of Learning Workshop Goes To West Cameroon

The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) story design open distance learning programming is being scaled up in Cameroon using the community radio stations to promote healthy communities and the reduction of infant mortality. After Kumba, in the south west region, the interactive and participative story design workshop moved to the west region. According to the COL Cameroon Link Partnership project coordinator, James Achanyi-Fontem, twelve (12) community radio stations in Cameroon have already been engaged in the process of informing and educating mothers on how the achieve better health conditions and wellbeing by participating and listening to radio programmes designed by them on mother and child health protection. The participants in the workshop that just ended in Melong were drawn from the community radio stations in the west region, women’s community development organizations, experts from the health and social welfare sectors. The focus of programme content was infant and young child feeding with particular attention to breastfeeding. The radio story design community of learning programming aims at reducing maternal and infant mortality. Apart from the Commonwealth of Learning agency based in Vancouver, Canada supporting the project technically, a United Kingdom based not-for-profit organization, Development Media International has just joined the wagon and started by holding talks with top officials at the WHO office in Yaoundé and the ministry of public health on how to contribute to maternal and infant mortality reduction in Cameroon. The Development Media International delegation was led by Will Snell, the head of public engagement and development. Seven Community Radio Stations in the English Speaking South West Region of Cameroon joined the Community of Learning Programme Wagon during a five-day long story design workshop in Kumba, Meme Division from Tuesday, 15th January to 19th January, 2013. The workshop was organized by Cameroon Link with the technical and financial support of the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) at the Women’s Empowerment Centre in K-Town. At the end of the CLP pilot phase in June 2012, mother and child health care remained a major challenge in all regions of Cameroon with mothers and children considered the most vulnerable target groups within communities. Maternal and infant malnutrition is very high and a cause for concern. This explains why Cameroon Link and stakeholders of the initiative are focusing attention on infant and young child feeding, particularly breastfeeding during the radio story design programming process. On the other hand, non-communicable diseases, principally cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers and chronic respiratory diseases are increasing the burden of health care provision in the urban and rural areas. Mother to Child Transmission of HIV is also complicating the nutrition efforts and there is urgent need for appropriate and adequate health information, education and communication for mothers to make well informed choices on how to feed and care for their children.

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