The Women’s Health program of the CBC Health Services has officially held a closeout meeting of a Family Planning project that was aimed at “Addressing barriers to Family Planning in urban slums in two urban cities of Cameroon. The meeting in Yaounde took place at the CBC Health Services’ Mvan Resource Centre Complex on February 19, 2020.
Opening the meeting, Mrs. Mboh Eveline Asongwe representing the Director of the CBC Health Services, expressed her appreciation for the implementation of such a laudable project in Cameroon. She expressed her hope that with the ending of this “pilot” phase of the project, there will be sourcing for more funds that will enable these services extended to more people who are living in urban slums in Cameroon.
The 6-month project that ran from August 1, 2019, to January 31, 2020, was implemented in four Health Districts of Biyem-Assi and Cite Vert in Yaounde, and New Bell and Bonassama in Douala.
Dubbed FP2020, the project is a global partnership that supports the rights of women and girls to decide—freely and for themselves—whether, when and how many children they want to have, and it works with governments, civil society, multilateral organizations, donors, the private sector and the research and development community to enable 120 million additional women and girls to use contraceptives by 2020.
The project had as objective to strengthen the capacity of 30 existing Community Health Workers (CHW) (15 in Yaounde and 15 in Douala) to integrate Family Planning (FP) services (information, services, and supplies) in their routine community activities within urban slums in the cities of Yaounde and Douala cities by January 2020. A total of 33 CHWs and 22 FP providers were trained on the provision of different FP methods/techniques, evidence-based information, and counseling and a total of 5028 clients were served with FP services. The uptake of these services ranged from counseling, Sayana Press, Pills Male Condoms, and Female Condoms.
It is thanks to the funds from the donor organizations: the United Nations Foundation (UNF), and FP 2020 RRM that the project could be implemented with the aforementioned commendable successes. The successes however did not come smoothly.
While noting as challenges difficult terrain that challenged movement during the rainy season, inadequate motivation for CHWs to carry out activities and the unreceptive nature of some community members, the project staff were not deterred, says project Supervisor, Mrs Manjuh Florence. The enthusiastic Community Health Workers have continued services in these slums, even at the close of this phase of the project.
With the experience after this project, the recommendations have been the provision of equipment for long term method insertion and removal (Implants and IUD) and consumables to Health Facilities in these slums, the training of more CHWs for FP services and provision of logistics to facilitate their activities, as well as the development of FP manuals for CHWs. While working towards an extension of this project, lessons learned will be utilized to ensure continuous improvement, until FP methods in these slums are effectively used.
Speaking to the Communication Unit of the CBC Health Services, the project consultant Dr. Simon Manga affirmed the success in the implementation of the project “thanks to the dedication of all project staff and the CHWs. As a pilot project, the results are good and there is the possibility of more funding to expand the project into other slums in the country, which could not be reached initially because of the limited funding”. The West Region of Cameroon is in view, given the number of IDPs hosted in the region.
Quizzed on what he can give as advice to the government given the alarming poor living conditions of people in the slums, Dr. Manga laments on the poor hygiene and calls on the government to pay more attention to the health of these vulnerable people. The provision of good drinking water, roads, and health facilities will help these poor people attend to their basic needs.
It should be noted that many people don’t believe in FP, while a lot more are ignorant about what it is all about. The misconception about Family Planning in Cameroon and some parts of Africa according to the project Supervisor Mrs. Manjuh Florence is because of ignorance. She adds that “When people are counseled on FP and its different methods, they accept it and start using it. Misconceptions are usually borne from the wrong notion that FP is out to stop people from giving birth”. Awareness creation through the Community Health Workers who educate on both the natural and artificial methods of FP has helped people to make informed decisions. This has made many people accept FP and are willing to use it.
The District Medical Officers of the four implementing districts, the Regional Focal persons for Reproductive Health for Yaounde and Douala, all appraised this project while renewing their usual commitment to work together for the health of people in their respective health areas of jurisdiction.