Helen Kelley International sponsored a one-week workshop at Framotel Hotel in Kriibi from the 7th – 12 April, 2014 to scale up breastfeeding and evaluate the cost of nutritional interventions in Cameroon. Participants came from the ministry of public health, ministry of agriculture and rural development, UNICEF, HKI and Cameroon Link.
Key presentations covered the promotion of infant and young child feeding, shortages in micronutrients and interventions in Cameroon, Vitamin A supplementation in Cameroon and food fortification in Cameroon. The experts from the ministry of agriculture presented the state of Bio fortification in Cameroon before participants were split into groups for a budgeting exercise of activities which took several days.
Key speakers at the workshop were Martin Nankap of Helen Kelley International, Okala Georges of Health Promotion at the ministry of public health, UNICEF Cameroon and Anatole Ebete of MINADER. The moderator of budget elements and work group orientations was the director for health promotion.
Cameroon Link participated in the behavior change communication group and the issues were related to the promotion on initiation of breastfeeding, infant feeding and complimentary feeding with the promotion of consumption of foods rich in micronutrients. The objective is to attain a 50% rate of infant and young child feeding by the year 2025 including vitamin A.
To examine the scale up budget, participants discussed the list of foods rich in micronutrients region by region in Cameroon with the seasons and conservation possibilities. Data on production, consumption and the different forms were given consideration. The BCC group focused its attention on developing strategies to encourage the promotion of breastmilk consumption and other foods rich in micronutrients in the 10 regions of Cameroon and particularly in Yaoundé and Douala. Costs estimates of activities at central and region levels were examined.
Members of the group developed formative research strategies, communication action plan which includes advocacy, social mobilization and CCC. For greater outreach, it was agreed that communication tools have to be developed and stakeholders’ capacities reinforced.
In the strategic training plan, it was agreed that modules had to be developed and made coherent with communication tools. The training will be planned and organized at various levels starting with the trainer of trainers at the central, region, district and community levels.
Considering that human survival depends on food, health and information, participants suggested the training of development agents, community actors including grandmothers, aunties, men and community relay agents as integral stakeholders of the activities.
Special training would be planned for communicators, especially as breastfeeding promotion would adopt the strategy of hospital, community, radio, television approaches as friends of babies. The work in four groups were restituted and discussed on April 11 before looking at the way forward.
In Cameroon, almost 40% of the population of children under five years old is at risk of vitamin A deficiency (VAD), with rates exceeding 62% in the Northern region. It is estimated that 50,000 children die due to various forms of malnutrition every year in Cameroon.
The national prevalence of anemia among children under five years old is almost 57%, with rates as high as 67% in certain regions. Anemia is also a major contributor to maternal mortality, and anemia rates among pregnant women exceed 52%; 360 pregnant women die each year because they are severely anemic. Onchocerciasis, lymphatic filiariasis, schistosomiasis and intestinal helminthiasis are endemic diseases.
WHAT HKI IS DOING
Helen Keller International has been operating in Cameroon since 1992 and works in all regions of the country with activities concentrated in the Center, the Far-North and the East Regions. Current programs include: Vitamin A Supplementation, Child Survival, Food Fortification, Essential Nutrition Actions, Onchocerciasis Control and Soil-Transmitted Helminth Control
HKI’s work with Vitamin A supplementation (VAS) began in Cameroon in 1998. Between 2003 and 2007, HKI worked to integrate capsule distribution into other interventions, such as CDTI, local immunization days, and routine immunization activities.
Since 2008, national Maternal and Child Health and Nutrition Action Weeks (MCHNAW) have been organized twice yearly to provide high-impact interventions that address child survival and maternal mortality. In June 2009, the MCHNAW included vitamin A supplementation for children 6 to 59 months and women of reproductive age. Other interventions offered included de-worming for preschoolers 12 to 59 months, measles immunization for children 9 to 59 months, polio vaccines for all children under 5, and treatments for pregnant women.
Who is Helen Kelley ?
Helen Kelley, a nationally recognized quiltmaker and writer on quilting, died of a heart attack on Sept. 1 at her home in northeast Minneapolis at the age of 81. Her work was often inspired by family life and her travels, was inducted into the Quilting Hall of Fame.
She grew up in New Haven, Conn., and was skilled at sewing since childhood. She earned a bachelor's degree in theatre from Northwestern University in 1947. She married Bill Kelley and they raised a family, moving to Minnesota in 1962.
Her work has earned several awards. Her quilt modeled after a Norwegian tapestry is owned by the Minnesota Historical Society and was dubbed by quilt experts as one of 100 best of the 20th century. Kelley was the founder and first president of Minnesota Quilters and was part of a group at North Como Presbyterian Church in Roseville that makes quilts for the needy.
James Achanyi-Fontem, is a Senior Health Journalist and Communication Consultant. He worked as a health journalist and broadcaster for 30 years with Radio Cameroon and later Cameroon Radio Television, CRTV before retiring in 2005 to engage fully with Cameroon Link (Human Assistance Programme). Cameroon Link is a registered charity, not-for-profit organisation involved in the promotion of community health, humanitarian assistance, promotion of women and child rights through involvement of communities in Cameroon for mother and child health care. Cameroon Link is a partner to Commonwealth of Learning (COL), Farm Radio International (FRI), International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN Africa), World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA). As the intermediary of Commonwealth of Learning (COL), Cameroon Link is engaged to implement a Cameroon Rural Radio story design Programming through an investigative research, which aims to discover through interviewing beneficiaries of health programmes on their interests, documenting and disseminating new ideas about how radio stations produce and air Healthy Communities Radio Programs in Cameroon.