On the 26th of April 2023, high ranking personalities from the North West Region and some key health stakeholders and actors converged to the well decorated Conference room of the North West Regional Fund for Health Promotion to participate to the advocacy and information meeting on the Universal Health Coverage in the North West Region. The colorful event presided over by the Governor was attended by the President of the Regional Council, Mayors of Bamenda 1, 2 and 3, The SDO of Mezam, other Delegates of health related sector, religious authorities, traditional Authorities, media Professionals, representatives of Non-Governmental Organizations just to name the few.
After a succinct welcome address by the Regional Delegate of Public Health Dr CHE SOH Kingsley who is also the North West Regional Coordinator of UHC program, he started with some key presentations on the implementation of the 1st phase of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) which included the context the definition and guiding Principles, the package of Health Services for Phase 1, the objectives, the beneficiaries, the sources of Funding, the implementing Structures, the benefits, the progress made so far in the implementation.
Thereafter he made a very practical presentation on different steps of digital enrolment process which he said to be a critical step for UHC. An enrollment platform or Application will be used for all the steps of enrollment which starts by the pre-enrollment which is the registration phase. An exercise that can be done individually or by an enrolling agent, with or without internet connection. The beneficiary immediately obtains a receipt and then subsequently, a Universal Health Coverage card. As this presentation was going on, many participants showed a vivid interest as they were using their phones to get to the final phase of registration. We could have few of participants already registered during the meeting with their registration cards displaying on their phones screen (See the screenshot among pictures below). This was a proof that it is real, its ongoing. The about two hundred participants present were eager to get registered and the Region is expecting to get many people registered for this first day.
The rich discussions session that followed were full of cordiality and which gave opportunity not only to dissipate the participants doubts and worries but also to assess the level of knowledge and information already acquired on the UHC program by participants as relevant and in-depth questions were raised. They were ranging from logistic aspect like stock out of inputs, to technical aspect like capacity of the health facilities to offer hemodialysis services at all levels just to name the few. The quality and straightforward answers to each of the questions asked were well appreciated as the crowd could cheer up the main presenter at the end of the session
As summary, for the North West Region the package of services for the 1st phase of Universal Health Coverage includes: Free Consultation of children below 5 years of age, Free treatment of simple and severe malaria in children below 5 years of age, Hemodialysis of patients suffering from renal failure at an annual cost of only 15,000fcfa, and free management of persons living with HIV as well as Tuberculosis, among other preventive and promotional services.
The close out speech which was the advocacy per se after participant grapping the necessary information on UHC was done by the Governor. He started by reminding that access to health care is still a big challenge in Cameroon, as evidenced by the fact that in 2019, about 72% of health care expenditures was borne by out of pocket payment. Unfortunately, not more than 7% of Cameroonians, presently benefit from a social security scheme of any kind. However, thanks to the high instructions of the Head of State H.E. Paul Biya in 2017, the Government of Cameroon has been working hard to ensure that Universal Health Coverage becomes a reality in our Country. With the National launching of the 1st phase of Universal Health Coverage by H.E. the Minister of Public Health, on the 12th of April 2023 in the town of Bertoua in the East Region of Cameroon.
He thereafter called on each actors to employ a lot of commitment and effort, so that this initiative records a resounding success in our Region. Highlight was done for more awareness raising and fight against rumors so as to generate more demand and population adherence.
By the time this article was to be published, media organs were already spreading the UHC messages on air, banners and posters were hanged and pasted in all the sensitive areas throughout Bamenda town.