By Etienne Mainimo Mengnjo
23-year-old Mireille Etanki is standing and watching her child lie in an incubator at the Limbe Regional Hospital. A few minutes later, she prepares to feed her baby and with a smile on her face.
She said she is happy with the way she is “being treated here and the equipment is helping me and my child to keep improving as days go by.”
“It is true 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. My child is in the incubator and from time to time, we used the kangaroo bags and beds to have our child closer to us,” Mireille Etanki stated.
This is a testimony from a beneficiary of the Pandemic Emergency Financing, PEF program, a project aimed at strengthening the ongoing COVID-19 response and effects of the crisis in ensuring continuity in health districts in the Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon.
Initiated some 11 months ago, the project designed only for Northwest and Southwest Regions is also aimed at contributing to the control of the pandemic by stopping the spread, control of morbidity and mortality related to COVID-19 in the two regions.
Just like Etanki, citizens in the Southwest region have registered sad moments since the outbreak of the socio-political crisis followed by the global health pandemic. Basic maternal, newborn and child health interventions gradually decreased. Difficulty in access to quality health facilities and the fear of the pandemic prevented citizens from going to the hospitals.
Statistics indicate that, before the crisis and the pandemic, vaccination on reproductive health, expanded programmes on immunisation, EPI and malaria in the Southwest Region stood at 90 percent. Between 2017 to 2019, the coverage decrease to 47 percent as indicated by health experts in the region due to the twin crisis.
“We analyzed the crisis and realized that the neonatal and maternal death rates in the region were high. With the crisis, many of these women could not go to the hospitals and so many things went wrong,” Caroline Endeley Suka, Coordinator of PEF in charge of reproductive health in the SW Region said.
Benefits Of PEF Program In Southwest Region
Following a documentation and visibility field mission of the media accompanied by officials of the Ministry of Public Health and UNICEF to the region, beneficiaries and implementing actors of the project presented some of the benefits the program has brought since its implementation.
Besides some of the achievement register, a health expert said, far from the 47 percent decrease recorded when the crisis began, the introduction of the PEF programme has helped to 66.8 percent vaccination rate in the Southwest Region.
Coming face-face with the beneficiaries, they lauded the programme stating that it is thanks to the project that many of their children have been vaccinated and many of them receiving mosquito nets.
“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 could not be done but today, my children have been vaccinated,” Josephine, a native in Idenau said.
To Ferdinand Chai, Chief of Idenau Health Centre, “the PEF program has helped us to improve on the immunisation routine program. Due to language barrier and the fact that people neglected their vaccination schedule, the programme has helped to solve a greater part of the problem.”
Concerning the fight against malaria, Beckley Sone Njume a frontline field epidemiologist and Chief of Bureau for Mbonge Health district said, the program has helped given that access to health care has increased due to the programme.
With funds from World Bank, the Ministry of Public Health in partnership with UNICEF support the Government in strengthening the ongoing COVID-19 response in ensuring continuity in 20 health districts in the Northwest and Southwest regions.