The challenges and our response
International Medical Corps began working in Cameroon in 2008 in response to an influx of refugees from the Central African Republic (CAR) along Cameroon’s eastern border. Today, Cameroon is hosting some 350,000 refugees from the neighboring countries of Nigeria and the CAR, in addition to nearly 200,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs).
As Cameroon struggles to meet the needs of these resource-poor populations, International Medical Corps is there providing basic health care, nutrition, gender-based violence prevention (GBV) and response services, child protection and water, sanitation and hygiene services (WASH) in the underserved East, Adamaoua, North and Far North Regions. To help address the prevalence of malnutrition among these vulnerable populations, we are providing nutritional supplements to mothers and young children. We are also helping Cameroonians to strengthen local health care capacity by training traditional birth attendants and other health care providers throughout the country.
Primary and Secondary Health Care: Our health care services reach rural and underserved areas, providing preventive and curative services, mental health and psychosocial support services (MHPSS) and reproductive health services including ante- and post-natal care to both refugee and vulnerable host populations. We support the Global Health Security Agenda targets by increasing community-based surveillance, improving reporting, strengthening immunization programs and enhancing the ability of public health officials to detect and respond to disease threats. In addition, we strengthen acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) prevention and response efforts through training and activities for community members. We also assist Ministry of Health clinics and hospitals with the provision of medicines and supplies, as well as training local health workers to strengthen capacity. In addition, we strengthen the referral and counter-referral system in the country, and support secondary health care for beneficiaries including internally displaced persons (IDPs), refugees and vulnerable host communities. Finally, we train community health workers on public health topics and to engage in disease surveillance and vaccine follow-up.
Nutrition: In response to high malnutrition and stunting rates as well as food insecurity within the refugee populations in Cameroon, International Medical Corps is conducting nutrition screenings and supplementary and therapeutic feeding activities for children under five and for pregnant and lactating women. We also improve household nutrition practices including Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) practices through training and outreach activities. Our local teams work with Ministry of Health staff to offer nutrition education and culinary demonstration sessions, teaching families how to get the most out of the food they have.
Gender-Based Violence and Child Protection: Protection is at the center of all our supported programs in Cameroon. International Medical Corps teams support protection activities, which include child protection and gender-based violence (GBV) prevention and response in the Far North, North, Adamaoua, and East Regions of Cameroon. Our staff implement community awareness campaigns to prevent further sexual and GBV in refugee camps and host communities. In addition to providing emergency medical and reproductive services for GBV survivors from both refugee and host populations, we also offer psychosocial support and peer education for vulnerable groups. We coordinate with line ministries to ensure local protection structures are strengthened and equipped to respond to beneficiaries’ needs. We also work to reduce the stigma surrounding discussion of the topic through educational outreach and advocacy sessions in local communities.
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene: The provision of clean, safe and accessible water supply and sanitation facilities is an important component of International Medical Corps’ work in Cameroon. Our teams are working with communities to build and maintain safe water supply systems and sanitation facilities in the Far North Region. We build, rehabilitate and purify wells and establish water committees to help maintain them. In addition, we are conducting training and awareness programs on topics such as cholera, hygiene, sanitation, water purification and storage.