Civil society organisations (CSOs) across Africa have called on Cameroonian president, Paul Biya to establish a dedicated agency focused on managing public health emergencies.
The group is emphasised the need for adequate funding to ensure the agency’s effectiveness in responding to future health crises.
This plea was made during the Africa Regional Advocacy Summit for NGOs and Media, a three-day event organised by the Africa Health Budget Network (AHBN) in Abuja. The summit brought together participants from various African countries, including Cameroon, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
The programme manager of HERFON, Dr. Opeyemi Adeosun stressed that the establishment of a specialised agency is essential for enhancing Cameroon’s readiness for upcoming health emergencies and ensuring a coordinated response. He highlighted the array of recent public health crises that Cameroon has faced, including cholera outbreaks, measles and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The absence of a dedicated agency has hindered the country’s ability to effectively manage these situations.
Adeosun underscored the importance of having a well-equipped agency with trained personnel to promptly respond to emergencies. He noted that the agency’s responsibilities would encompass outbreak monitoring, collaboration with local and international partners, and the efficient distribution of medical supplies and resources.
In addition to advocating for the agency’s establishment, the CSOs are also urging for sufficient funding to support its operations. Adeosun highlighted that without proper funding, the agency would struggle to fulfil its mandate and respond effectively to crises.
The information & youth engagement officer at AHBN, Halimah Bello acknowledged the financial challenges the government may face but argued that investing in a dedicated agency for public health emergencies is a strategic move for the country’s long-term health security. She believes that such an agency would not only enhance Cameroon’s response to future health crises but also strengthen its overall healthcare system.
As this call reaches President Biya, it remains to be seen how his government will respond. However, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the heightened awareness of the significance of public health preparedness could potentially drive serious consideration of the establishment of a dedicated agency. Adequate funding allocation to support its operations would be crucial for its effectiveness.
In the context of the summit, a health economist and monitoring and evaluation specialist of AHBN, Mrs. Maimuma Abdullahi highlighted the objectives of the event. These objectives included enhancing the capacity of delegates in areas such as budget analysis, budget advocacy and transparency regarding domestic resource mobilisation (DRM) for health security. Additionally, the summit aimed to foster peer learning and exchange among country delegates, encouraging accountability for domestic resource mobilization for health security and systems in Africa.
Summarily, the CSOs’ call for a dedicated public health emergency agency in Cameroon reflects the growing recognition of the need for preparedness and coordination in tackling health crises. The establishment of such an agency could pave the way for more effective responses to future challenges and contribute to the overall health security of the nation.