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Pioneer Executive Official from Hope and Healing International visits CBCHS

By Bonkung Handerson

Stratis Vomvas has gone down in history as the first-ever executive official from the Hope and Healing International (HHI) Canada to visit the CBC Health Services. The HHI Chief Financial Officer sojourned to Cameroon from October 9-14, 2022 for two objectives: Perform a Desk Review of the financial PPR for fiscal year 2022 and to establish a stronger understanding of CBCHS.

In a meeting with the Program and Finance team in the CBCHS headquarters in Bamenda on October 10, the HHI visiting official was exposed to an overview of the CBCHS whose history spans from 1936 in a small village in Mbem in Donga Mantung Division while the beginning of services to persons with disability, specifically leprosy, started in 1952 in Mbingo Baptist Hospital. In 1982, services to persons with disabilities took a new dimension with the creation of the Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) program. This would later lead to the beginning of the Socio Economic Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (SEEPD) program in 2009, which momentum is clearly visible in the creation of awareness about disabilities in specific and specialized domains such as eye, ear, nose and throat, physiotherapy and orthopedics, and CBR among others. The SEEPD program has also evolved to stand out as a leading advocacy platform  on inclusive development to Government Ministries and decentralized local authorities.

According to Stratis, it is the inclusive vision of the CBCHS that attracted HHI to seek partnership in 2013 beginning with the Non-Cash Resource project. Stratis was elated to see some of their donated equipment in the wards and departments during his tour of Nkwen Baptist Hospital. The items included among others: hospital beds, bed-side cupboards, wheelchairs, walkers, braces and shoes for the treatment of clubfoot in children.

The HHI Chief Finance Officer also had ample proof and evidence of the judicious use of donated funds and equipment. The assurances were given during his working sessions with Mrs. Ndong Irene, Finance and Administrative Officer of the SEEDP program, Mr. Ntam Ephraim, Director of Finance and Development Board of the Cameroon Baptist Convention, Mr. Awa Jacques Chirac, SEEPD Program Manager, Mr. Kangong Joce, Administrator of Nkwen Baptist Hospital and Prof. Tih Pius Muffih, Director of CBCHS.

From one project at the beginning of the partnership in 2013, the Hope and Healing International (HHI) organization now supports six projects in the CBCHS under the SEEPD program. These include: Non-Cash Resource (providing hospital equipment), HealingHugs Profiling and Resource Gathering (over 2000 children with disabilities already profiled), Expanding Access to River Blindness in the West region, Human Resource for Eye Care (one ophthalmologist now in training in Tanzania), Socio Economic Empowerment of Females with Fistula (over 40 fistula repairs made so far), an Integrated Approach to Management of Muscuskeletal Deformities (construction of a standard pediatric ward in Baptist Hospital Mutengene).

Quizzed about the future of this partnership. Stratis Vomvas assured that HHI is committed to stand by the CBCHS in its drive towards the inclusion of persons with disabilities, especially children.

Kangong Joce, Administrator of Nkwen Baptist Hospital said the needs of his hospital are representative of those of the other CBCHS hospitals. The hospital needs more beds for expansion, bed- side cupboards, standard shelves in the drug store and in the medical record unit, WHO recommended refrigerator in the drug store, theatre equipment and others.

In a debriefing session, the HHI visiting official confessed that he came and saw nice and welcoming people in a huge organization with a lot of potential areas to continue with the partnership. Stratis Vomvas returned to Canada on October 14, 2022 with a full plate of appreciation and demand for additional support from Hope and Healing International to the CBCHS.

It should be noted that Hope and Healing International organization is an offshoot of the defunct CBM Canada.