The Total Health Program serves the population in a unique way, utilizing herbal medicine, natural health products, yoga therapy, lifestyle counseling, and widespread health education and awareness efforts. In 2013 alone, activities of the two parts of the program—Health Center and Health Education—reached over 80,000 people in Northwest Cameroon. These health services shore up critical gaps in the current health system, which is overburdened by the needs of the community and is unable to address the underlying factors responsible for illness and poor health.
Total Health Program initiatives include:
Our Health Center program is led by our local health agents, who are trained in the community’s most prevalent health issues, including digestive tract ailments, joint pain and arthritis, cough and cold, fever, blood sugar problems, anxiety, and depression. Our training program covers the Total Health philosophy with a strong emphasis on hands-on experience in basic public health education and dispensary services.
In addition to Health Center–based consultation and pharmacy services, we have a strong network of Certified Consultant Affiliates (local health agents) who expand the reach of the Health Center even further into the community. These individuals take part in our Health Consultant training and subsequently return to their home villages to independently offer consultation and pharmacy services.
Our free health consultations give thousands of people access to care they otherwise could not afford. The Total Health Center has regular walk-in hours during which people can request a private consultation to discuss their health history and current illnesses and complaints, as well as to ask any questions they may have.
Mobile Health Clinics bring health solutions directly to patients. Each week the mobile team, which is made up of three members, including a trained Total Health consultant, a Total Health pharmacist, and a public relations specialist, drive to a different community with a vehicle full of medicinal products. A temporary Total Health Center is set up alongside the vehicle, complete with a private consultation room and benches for waiting patients.
The back of the vehicle becomes the pharmacy where patients go to fill their prescriptions. Through loudspeakers, the public relations specialist announces the arrival of the Total Health Center to people in the marketplace. Each time the Total Health Center mobile unit visits a community, 100–200 free consultations are given. The mobile unit returns to each community every few months on a regular rotation, in order to best serve its clients.
After the consultation, patients receive a personalized treatment plan comprised of herbal medicine, homeopathy, yoga therapy, and behavioral and lifestyle counseling. Our pharmacy offers a range of products, such as herbal medicine, homeopathic remedies, medicinal oil and rubs, other natural health products, dental hygiene products, and reading glasses. Our Total Health products are safe, effective, and extremely affordable, offering patients an excellent alternative to pharmaceutical drugs and other health products on the market.
The Total Health Center’s herbal products are produced in Cameroon and use herbs grown locally. This local manufacturing style is the first in the country and combines age-old treatments and modern production methods. By growing medicinal herbs in the communities that need them, the Total Health Center provides affordable health options, without being dependent on long-distance supply chains, and creates income for the growers.
The Total Health Center also has a demonstration plot on its main campus for research and development and for teaching various modern and sustainable farming techniques. During regular seminars, local farmers are instructed in composting, micro-rainwater harvesting, crop diversification, organic pesticides, and intercropping. The farm also serves as a nursery for biofuel and medicinal crops. Located in the administrative center of Kumbo, this demonstration site is easily accessible to thousands of farmers.
Use this map to learn more about the villages which will host Knowledge and Health Branch Centers. Click on a pin to see interesting facts about each location and get to know the communities you are supporting even better.
Cameroon is home to approximately 22 million people. In Northwest Cameroon, the average life expectancy is 54 years, with a majority dying of preventable communicable diseases linked to poverty and controllable lifestyle factors. Access to health knowledge and education is greatly lacking in the general population. Our health education classes and awareness efforts are aimed at addressing this gap in knowledge, significantly increasing health knowledge and improving long-term health outcomes. This education-based model is the first of its kind in the region, if not the entire nation, offering simple yet meaningful solutions that are realistically applicable for the people of Cameroon.
Community Health Education initiatives include:
Health classes are taught throughout the region by our trained community health educators. These free classes are hosted by hundreds of community partner organizations and are typically attended by 50–100 individuals. Topics include basic public health, first aid, diet and nutrition, maternal and child health, men’s and women’s health, and stress and emotional health. Classes include both lecture and interactive demonstrations and are designed to be easily understood and culturally appropriate.
Our broad sensitization and awareness activities utilize radio, television, loudspeaker announcements, posters, marketing agents, and other print media to reach tens of thousands. The goal of our awareness efforts is to bring about large-scale change by engaging the general population and creating a culture of health. Developing partnerships with social groups, schools, local businesses, traditional leaders, and local and national government—our social infrastructure—is a key aspect of our health work. Outreach activities engage and mobilize the community, motivating people to take part in educational classes and other Total Health programs.
In order to offer health education classes we need a strong team of local educators. This is accomplished through Community Health Educator Training—an intensive training course and hands-on teaching internship. Upon completion, educators are prepared to share their knowledge with the community and act as local health resources.
Throughout Africa, there is a consistent lack of access to information. This is most vividly demonstrated by the scarcity of books. In Kumbo, despite a relatively high literacy rate, books are extremely difficult to find. Even when available, a used paperback routinely costs $15 to $20 in a country where many earn only $2 a day. Himalayan Institute Cameroon has established the largest library in the Northwest Region of Cameroon. This library contains over 30,000 books, as well as reading rooms, collaborative work spaces, a children’s corner, reference books, and textbooks.
Public Library initiatives include:
Our public library in Kumbo serves students from elementary to university level, as well as teachers and other professionals. Through the library, we also offer a book-lending program, afterschool and mentoring programs, and professional development resources.
Branch libraries are strategically located in remote communities that otherwise have extremely limited access to educational resources. Each branch library holds 2,000 to 3,000 books.
All of our libraries are run and maintained by trained community members who hold education in the highest regard.
School of Carpentry & Construction
The School of Carpentry & Construction is a vocational training and service center that features a large range of modern tools, equipment, and techniques, all designed to improve the efficiency, safety, and quality of construction projects in Cameroon. Kumbo, Cameroon, suffers from an overwhelming deficiency of tools, and workers lack experience of how to integrate the various trades required to efficiently build or renovate a building. The result is that construction projects are frequently plagued with inefficiency, inconsistent quality, high cost, and numerous safety concerns. By integrating several vocational trades, including carpentry, masonry, and plumbing, the School of Carpentry & Construction is training a new generation of general contractors who will be equipped to more effectively address the challenges of construction.
School of Carpentry & Construction initiatives include:
The School of Carpentry & Construction offers vocational training courses on advanced woodworking techniques and furniture making. The course includes training in structural design, furniture design and upholstery, detail carpentry work, wood preserving and finishing techniques, project estimating, and shop management. With a strong emphasis on hands-on experience, the program provides ample opportunity for student projects and internships. Graduates can use their certificates of completion to help them get better jobs throughout Cameroon, and select students have the opportunity to join the furniture production and service program.
The School of Carpentry & Construction is equipped with a modern set of woodworking machines: table saw, mortising machine, drill press, lathe, plunge routers, handheld belt sanders, and randomorbit hand sanders. Many of these machines are the first of their kind in the area, helping to make the local carpentry industry more efficient, productive, and safe.
The service program makes these modern power tools available to the Kumbo public. Staffed by select graduates from the center’s 10- week training program, the center provides on-demand custom cuts and joinery for established carpenters. Many of the orders completed in minutes with stationary power tools at the school would otherwise take days of manual labor. The service program ensures high-quality products for consumers, and broadens the product base for the 250+ carpenters in the region.
Technicians from the training program are also trained in modern furniture design and building techniques. The School of Carpentry & Construction fills challenging orders from the local community for furniture that could not be completed through traditional methods. By doing this, the school raises awareness of the potential for local materials and creates future demand for locally produced, high-quality furniture. Upon commencement of the first training program, the school was asked to completely furnish a new government building.
Our women’s empowerment programs provide women with the skills and opportunities to build sustainable small businesses that help eradicate poverty and bring economic growth to rural communities. Our premier women’s empowerment program is our jewelry training program, Sacred Link Jewelry.
Sacred Link Jewelry incorporates designs and materials from all around the world and brings the beauty of the village market to the global market.
For nearly a decade, we’ve worked with schools, women’s empowerment groups, government ministries, local nonprofits, and other development clubs throughout Cameroon to teach jewelry making as a vocational trade. For the women in these communities, having a skill that allows them to earn an income is a matter of great pride as it allows them to be self-reliant.
Most recently, we have begun working with women in prison, teaching them jewelry making. This skills development provides a source of dignity and income to support their families at home.