Health

PEF Program, Great Relief In Cameroon’s NW Region

Nurses in a neonatal unit at the Limbe Regional Hospital

By Etienne Mainimo Mengnjo

When the socio-political crisis broke in the Northwest and Southwest Regions in late 2016, indigenes of the two Anglophone regions thought it was going end as soon as possible.

Little did they know that what began like a simple match on the street was going to develop into a long full crisis? The crisis came with its own devastating problems.

While citizens were not able to go about their normal activities, humanitarian crisis set accompanied by worsen health crisis. It may be true that so any people have been killed but many more have been killed because they did not have access to health care.

As if the crisis were not enough, the global health pandemic, COVID-19 set in and completely worsen the situation. Vaccination, maternal and neonatal mortality as well as the malaria situations increases due to the crisis.

Faced with these issues compromised the two crisis, the Pandemic Emergency Financing, PEF program came just in time to help solve the problem. The World Bank with support from UNICEF and the Cameroon Ministry of Health drived the program.

With the aim of strengthening the ongoing COVID-19 response and effects of crisis in ensuring continuity in health districts in the Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon, citizens see PEF program as the savior to their problems.

Many inhabitants in the Southwest Region have sad stories to tell as a result of the crisis affecting the two regions. In fact, very few parents accept having their children vaccinated given that many women who give birth at home with the aid of traditional birth attendants usually don’t see why the children should be vaccinated.

Front View of the Limbe Regional Hospital

When the socio-political crisis broke in the Northwest and Southwest Regions in late 2016, indigenes of the two Anglophone regions thought it was going end as soon as possible.

Little did they know that what began like a simple match on the street was going to develop into a long full crisis? The crisis came with its own devastating problems.

While citizens were not able to go about their normal activities, humanitarian crisis set accompanied by worsen health crisis. It may be true that so any people have been killed but many more have been killed because they did not have access to health care.

As if the crisis were not enough, the global health pandemic, COVID-19 set in and completely worsen the situation. Vaccination, maternal and neonatal mortality as well as the malaria situations increases due to the crisis.

Faced with these issues compromised the two crisis, the Pandemic Emergency Financing, PEF program came just in time to help solve the problem. The World Bank with support from UNICEF and the Cameroon Ministry of Health drived the program.

With the aim of strengthening the ongoing COVID-19 response and effects of crisis in ensuring continuity in health districts in the Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon, citizens see PEF program as the savior to their problems.

Parents preparing fish for smoking at Idenau

Many inhabitants in the Southwest Region have sad stories to tell as a result of the crisis affecting the two regions. In fact, very few parents accept having their children vaccinated given that many women who give birth at home with the aid of traditional birth attendants usually don’t see why the children should be vaccinated.

So sad that I lost my first twins and equally lost one of my twin children during the second delivery but I am thankful to all for the care. This period have been very difficult but the care have been excellent given the materials we used from UNICEF,” Mireille Etanki stated.

Even though most women have their own stories indicated that they have not had access to health care, others think they should not go to the hospital to vaccinate their children. “Why should I go to hospital? What if I get infected by the Coronavirus?” a parent said.

However, PEF, the World Bank-sponsored project has change the picture. Communities have continued to benefits from routine vaccination from health experts who storm villages to see the people.

 “This program is a welcome relief to us. I am happy because I have vaccinated all my children thanks to the PEF program. Vaccination is good but because of the crisis and the pandemic, some of us could not do it but today, my children have been vaccinated,” Josephine, a native in Idenau said.

Since the introduction of PEF program in 2020, vaccination rate in the region has increased.  Dr. Daniel Nebongo, Support Manager of the immunization service delivery section and focal point for the activities of the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) in the North-West and South-West regions, said, in 2017, vaccination coverage in the South West was around 90%. In 2020, it dropped to 43% due to the war and the pandemic. PEF project has taken up the coverage level, to nearly 67%-a 24% improvement.

So sad that I lost my first twins and equally lost one of my twin children during the second delivery but I am thankful to all for the care. This period have been very difficult but the care have been excellent given the materials we used from UNICEF,” Mireille Etanki stated.

Even though most women have their own stories indicated that they have not had access to health care, others think they should not go to the hospital to vaccinate their children. “Why should I go to hospital? What if I get infected by the Coronavirus?” a parent said.

However, PEF, the World Bank-sponsored project has change the picture. Communities have continued to benefits from routine vaccination from health experts who storm villages to see the people.

 “This program is a welcome relief to us. I am happy because I have vaccinated all my children thanks to the PEF program. Vaccination is good but because of the crisis and the pandemic, some of us could not do it but today, my children have been vaccinated,” Josephine, a native in Idenau said.

Since the introduction of PEF program in 2020, vaccination rate in the region has increased.  Dr. Daniel Nebongo, Support Manager of the immunization service delivery section and focal point for the activities of the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) in the North-West and South-West regions, said, in 2017, vaccination coverage in the South West was around 90%. In 2020, it dropped to 43% due to the war and the pandemic. PEF project has taken up the coverage level, to nearly 67%-a 24% improvement.

In addition, the use of incubators, kangaroo bags, Kangaroo beds and other materials from UNICEF, have greatly help in reducing mortality rate in the region. The malarial situation in Kumba as well as other parts of the region has also reduced thanks to the program.

However, a lot still need to be done especially at a time when the population is gradually enjoying their healthcare even though the crisis and the pandemic are still persisting. 

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