Cameroon: Materialising Universal Health Scheme

President Paul Biya has pledged to redouble efforts in his just-begun seven-year term of office to make life better for all Cameroonians. Revamping the economy to lift sustainable development, as he plans to do, is reasonably salutary. But giving the beneficiaries prospects of staying healthy is undeniably indispensable.

For, health, they say, is wealth. In his investiture speech on November 6, 2018, Mr Biya, bearing in mind that the ultimate goal of democracy is to provide the greatest number of people with the best living conditions possible and real equal opportunities, pledged to tackle the health of the population head-on. His commitment that ... "I will continue to devote all my efforts to: "...enhancing our health system by building new hospitals and finalizing an efficient social security system... " speaks volumes of the importance of a healthy population especially in an emergence-aspiring nation.

The Presidential promise coming after a similar commitment taken during his state of the nation's address on December 31, 2017 tells of his determination to materialise the Universal Health Coverage Scheme he himself announced. Placing the new commitment of the Head of State side-by-side the, "We will continue our efforts to provide quality and universal healthcare to our population," of last December suggests strong will to break new grounds. What however remains challenging is translating the commitment to concreate actions.

Cameroonians absolutely need to rise above common and sometimes curable diseases which unfortunately claim the lives of the useful population. Success rests on getting the best health structures and equipment as well as human resources capable of detecting on time health hazards and providing adequate responses too. Getting to a level where a Cameroonian doesn't die of toothache because he/she is found in one locality at a particular time is vital.

Universal Health Coverage entails giving the population irrespective of their status and location access to health services they need (prevention, promotion, treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care) without the risk of financial hardship when paying for them. Going by the first phase of the Universal Health Coverage Plan adopted mid this year, takeoff targets over 22 million people with particular attention on children and pregnant women.

Essentially, the operation consists in subsidizing vaccination healthcare services for children from zero to five years, pediatric care for children from zero to 15 years as well as gynecology/obstetrics problems for pregnant women. Major life-threatening ailments like HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, cancer, dialysis, schistosomiasis, among others are equally on programme. If statistics earlier advanced by stakeholders of the revolution health scheme are anything to go by, then government would need to draw full length to fetch the about FCFA 334, 765,241, 460 the plan needs in 2019. Huge challenge requiring robust efforts to surmount. The political will has been made clear.

Time therefore for concrete realisations! Given the fact that people's health cannot be equated to money, much has to be done to materialize the scheme. Only then can the country curb the recurrent medical evacuations which are not only expensive but selective as well judging from who is concerned. Sickness knows no bounds. Making conditions favourable for all to access quality healthcare, as the Head of State has said, can only be a stitch in time.

Cameroonians are anxiously waiting. No one doubts the fact that a healthy population is an indispensable development asset. As such, giving the human resources the required vitality to stand the test of taking a developing country to a middle-income status, as hoped by 2035, should therefore be nonnegotiable. 7

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