A two-day workshop aimed at training media actors from all ten regions of Cameroon was launched in Mbalmayo on the outskirts of Yaounde as part of activities of the community-led monitoring project of RéCAP+.
From September 14 to 15, 2023, the town of Mbalmayo, Centre region of the country played host to an engagement and capacity-building workshop of media practitioners on how to amplify communication about phase I of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and activities of the community-led monitoring (CLM) project implemented by RéCAP+.
According to the staff of local based community organization, RéCAP+ which is the Cameroon Network of Associations of People Living with HIV/AIDS, the two-day workshop was out to upgrade the skills of 30 media representatives on the communication about phase I of the UHC and activities conducted through the community-led monitoring project related to the availability of HIV and Malaria services offered to patients free of charge.
Speaking at the launch of the said workshop, Executive Director of RéCAP+, Henri Landom Shey called on the effective collaboration of journalists and his organization.
He said: “The calling of this meeting is due to the landmark decision signed by the Minister of Public Health bringing out HIV users fees. HIV users’ fees are aimed at eliminating direct payments of HIV services by communities using these services. Thanks to USAID RéCAP+ was engaged to follow up this decision with the effective elimination of this policy. So RéCAP+ cannot do it alone, we had to engage the media because these populations need to be sensitized and mobilized, and those services rendered to them. We call on the media to see how they can join forces with RéCAP+…”
In his address, Mr. Landom Shey pointed out the crucial role the media plays in the full implementation of this project since 2021. He believes one hand cannot carry a beehive and called for the staunch engagement of the 4th estate.
In an interview granted to the media, the Project’s Coordinator, Rose Sangong emphasized the fact that the workshop is also a move to accompany the Ministry of Public Health in implementing its national policy on Universal Health Coverage Phase I.
“In terms of Malaria treatment in this Phase I of the UHC in Cameroon, we have a good number of services offered free of charge or at low costs for our communities notably for children aged below 5 and pregnant women. And concerns HIV treatment, there are users’ fees that are now englobed in the UHC package, and services equally remain free of charge in public health hospitals. With these series of packages offered free of charge by the government, we thought it wise to engage media practitioners who will in return grant information to the public…” Mrs. Sangong narrated.
Just like Henri Landom Shey, Executive Director of RéCAP+, Mrs. Rose Sangong insisted on the fact that the workshop in Mbalmayo which is the second of its kind, is organized thanks to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) with the full unction of the Ministry of Public Health in Cameroon.
One of the key topics spotlighted during the workshop was that of Malaria which according to the World Health Organization (WHO) is the leading cause of death of about 11.000 persons every year in Cameroon.
Mr Ngambe Oumarou, Representative of the National Malaria Control Program (PNLP) outlined some comprehensive package of interventions that have been set by the Ministry of Public Health via the program. The participants were more informed on free-of-charge packages such as insecticide-treated nets and intermittent preventive treatment of malaria for pregnant women.
During the session dedicated to the Universal Health Coverage Phase I, the Chief section of communication for UHC said the project officially launched by the Minister of Public Health, Dr. Manaouda Malachie, on April 12, 2023, in the locality of Mandjou, East region of Cameroon is effectively on rails.
Dr. Noudji Simon stressed on the need to accentuate communication on the UHC which has a handful of packages free of charge. He said many people are not aware of the amount of money disbursed by the government to facilitate their treatment in public health hospitals.
It was disclosed that children aged from 0 to 5 years are exempted from consultation fees for all diseases in public hospitals and integrated health centers.
Also, Persons living with HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Onchocerciasis have access to free-of-charge treatment in all ten regions.
As concerns People undergoing dialysis, they have to pay an annual fee of 15.000FCFA instead of 520.000FCFA a year, in various public hospitals where the dialyses are conducted.
He went further to address the issue of enrolment in the platform to benefit from all these services offered by the State.
At the end of the training workshop, participants convened from all ten regions of Cameroon mapped out strategies to better the communication on these key issues affecting vulnerable groups and communities. Each representative is expected to produce reports, articles, or micro-programs on UHC and the tremendous work carried out through the CLM project of the ReCAP+.