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 hosts more than 439,000 refugees and 321,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Far North region and another 439,000 IDPs in the Northwest and Southwest regions.
International Medical Corps is working in refugee camps and with some of the most vulnerable populations in six regions in Cameroon—Far North, North, Adamawa, Northwest, East and Littoral—to implement health programs that include disease surveillance, nutrition activities, gender-based violence (GBV) response, mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) and child protection.
Primary and Secondary Health Care
International Medical Corps in Cameroon supports several healthcare facilities across six regions, and provides medical care directly through static health facilities, community health services and mobile outreach. Our services include preventive and curative medical consultations, reproductive health services including ante- and post-natal care; provision of essential drugs, medical supplies and equipment; and construction and rehabilitation of health facilities. We also provide training for healthcare professionals as well as community health workers who educate local residents on public health issues, engage in disease surveillance and follow-up on vaccine-preventable illnesses such as polio, neonatal tetanus, yellow fever and measles. International Medical Corps supports the community-based surveillance of diseases of epidemic potential, including polio, cholera and COVID-19, to facilitate early detection, prevention and response. Over the last five years, these efforts have led to a significant reduction in cholera cases in several health districts in the Far North and Littoral regions of Cameroon.
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 centre 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.
Certain cultural and religious practices—including forced child marriage, child labour and lack of educational opportunities for girls—continue to impede children’s rights in Cameroon. International Medical Corps works in refugee camps and host communities to prevent child abuse and promote the rights of refugee children from CAR and Nigeria, as well as IDP children. We train members of parent committees, community health workers and religious leaders to prevent the abuse and exploitation of children and to promote child rights. In collaboration with our nutrition team, we provide mental health and psychosocial support services for children receiving in-patient care for severe acute malnutrition and their caregivers. We also provide playtime activities and equipment for child-friendly spaces, and setting up girls’ and boys’ club structures, where children draw, garden, cook, dance and play.