Journalists from four television stations from the West, Littoral, Center, and Southwest regions have been told to intentionally support the disability movement in Cameroon by steering attitude change in communities, reducing stigma and promoting the social inclusion of persons with disability in all aspects of community life.
The representative of the Minister of Communication, Mr. Ekany Metuge was speaking at the opening of a two-day workshop on ‘Disability and the Media’ organized on November 27-28, 2018, by the Socio-Economic Empowerment of Persons with Disability (SEEPD) Program of the CBC Health Services in Yaounde. Mr. Ekany applauded the efforts of the CBC Health Services, AusAID and Christopher Blind Mission (CBM) for supporting government’s development efforts and relentlessly exploiting ways of improving the quality of life of persons with disability.
In his welcome speech, the CBM Country Representative in Cameroon, Mr. Fon Julius decried the barriers that persons with disability face such as communication, infrastructural, and attitudinal. Mr. Fon implored the journalists, who are members of the fourth estate – the media, to do better by taking keen interest in the issues of persons with disability.
“You should use your pens and microphones to break barriers that persons with disability face by changing attitudes of the society through your media communication. Grasp the opportunity of this workshop and catch up with other countries that have prioritised inclusion at the level of the media,” advised Mr. Fon.
Representing the Director General of the Cameroon Radio and Television (CRTV), the Director of Programs at CRTV Radio, Mr. Wain Paul Ngam called on the journalists not only to report on disability but to be advocates for persons with disability so that the stakeholders from all walks of life will be intentional in including persons with disability in all developmental actions.
In his presentation, the CBM Director for Central and West Africa, Mr. Mue Peter Ngha revealed that the World Report on Disability 2011 states that there are over a billion people, representing 15% of the world’s population, living with one form of disability or the other. The report, he said, shows that 80% of persons with disability live in developing countries, thus, suggesting a strong link between poverty and disability. In this regard, Mr. Mue emphasized that disability is a major development concern not only for persons with disability but also for their families and community in general.
On her part, the SEEPD Program Education Advisor, Mrs. Forbuzie Longla Bridget through different role plays on inclusion, challenged participants to set the agenda on disability issues in their media reporting. Mrs. Forbuzie noted that disability inclusion is a concept that cannot be ignored today.
The workshop presentations were further reinforced by the CBC Health Services’ Advocacy and Policy Advisor, Mr. Foyet Eugene who presented the decree signed on July 26, 2018 by Cameroon’s Prime Minister, His Excellency, Philemon Yang, fixing the procedures for the application of law N0. 2010/002 of 13 April 2010 on the protection and promotion of persons with disabilities in Cameroon.
The 14 workshop participants brainstormed on better ways to portray persons with disability in the media such as focusing on their abilities and not their disability, directing the population to pay attention to disability issues by frequently highlighting them on the media, and using inclusive language in reporting.
Speaking at the close of the workshop, the SEEPD Program Manager, Mr. Awa Jacques Chirac called on the journalists drawn from the public and private media to make inclusion a cross-cutting issue in their work.
The journalists commended the CBC Health Services for organizing such a timely workshop which has enhanced their knowledge on disability. The workshop was organized, thanks to support from AusAID and CBM.