Community Health Dialogue Structures, hitherto called, Health Area Committees are being equipped with relevant knowledge and awareness to enable them better participate in health issues in their communities.
The Local Capacity Initiative (LCI) project for the NW region has been empowering the Dialogue Structures across the region within the five health districts where LCI operates. These include: Mbengwi with 17 health areas, Bafut – 14, Benakuma – 8, Tubah – 11 and Ako – 7 giving a total of 57 health areas.
Districts with many members in the health areas are split in two workshops for easy facilitation. This was the case in Tabah that hosted two workshops. The first held from September 5-6 for six health areas (Tikebeng, Kwighe, Kedjom Ketinguh, Kedjom Keku, Lih and Ntehnmbang) while the second workshop held from September 7-8 for 5 heath areas (Sabga, Bambui, Baforkum, Finge and Bambili). As elsewhere, facilitators included the DMO, the Regional Fund for Health Promotion and LCI project staff. During each workshop, the health areas formulate action plans for implementation to improve uptake of health services in their communities.
Quizzed on the selection criteria for the five health districts, LCI Coordinator for the NW, Mrs. Mbounda Jacqueline said the selection was based on low ANC uptake in these districts. Another reason, she advanced, was the poor co-financing and management of healthcare by stakeholders.
In terms of Dialogue structure functionality, the LCI Coordinator announced that all the five districts are doing well. Her impression is the same with ANC uptake that has significantly improved in three of the five districts according to statistics within the last part of last year and the first part of this year. The three include: Bafut, Mbengwi and Ako. Her disparity is with co-management and co-financing, which she said Tubah, Bafut and Benakuma are doing well. She revealed that Bafut and Benakuma Councils have employed staff to work with health dialogue structures, thanks to the intervention and advocacy by LCI.
The programme also had a breakthrough with 52 traditional rulers in the NW region. During the workshops that held at the North West Special Fund for Health Promotion in Bamenda on two separate days, August 16 and 17, the traditional rulers resolved to organize meetings with their Traditional Councils to institute local laws that will cause their subjects to seek medical care in health facilities in their communities to prohibit home deliveries and improve on ANC uptake thereby contributing to the government policy of reducing maternal mortality in Cameroon.
The LCI Coordinator is upbeat that all the five health districts will be doing better by the end of this year following the initiation of monthly outreach and sensitization activities for ANC uptake.
The LCI project began in June 2014 in the NW and SW regions as a sub project of the HIV Free Project with the mandate to mobilize community stakeholders to support health initiatives at the local level. The LCI project wraps off in March 2017 except it is renewed.