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Covid-19 : Gains For Cameroon’s Health System

Besides improving the proficiency of health personnel, the country also acquired equipment, which has improved the technical platform of health facilities.

The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in Cameroon was received with fear, especially given that the country has a fragile health system. Many thought the country was ill prepared to address the devastating health and economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. Today, the story is however different. With the unfolding of the epidemic since March, the long awaited tsunami has been waved off by the government, thanks to an effective monitoring mechanism and support from national and international partners. Today, the health system of the country is counting what one could say “unexpected” blessings in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. Thanks to the response plan against the Covid-19 pandemic, Cameroon’s health system has gained major investments in terms of medical equipment that have improved the technical platform of some health facilities in the country. 
The Sub-Director of Disease Control at the Ministry of Public Health, Dr Linda Esso says while struggling to eliminate Covid-19, the health system was able to obtain sustainable investments that went beyond consumable equipment for personnel protection, hygiene and sanitation management. While curbing Covid-19, the health system was able to acquire 250 oxygen concentrators, 105 resuscitation ventilators, 3,500 beds including 250 for intensive care units. Also, the standard of isolation rooms at the Yaounde Jamot Hospital, the Yaounde General Hospital, Djoungolo District Hospital in Yaounde, the Yaounde Central Hospital, the Laquintinie Hospital in Douala, as well as all regional hospitals were  upgraded. Two border health posts were also created at the Yaounde and Douala airports. In addition, isolation units were built at the border health posts at the Nsimalen Airport and Garoua Boulai. 
As a result of Covid-19 pandemic, 15 medical laboratories have been upgraded and made functional in the country. The number of hospitalisation places in hospitals also increased by 3,104, that is, 300 places at the Yaounde Central hospital, 100 at Jamot Hospital, 191 expandables at the Orca Specialised Treatment Centre for the Covid-19 cases. Information further reveals that more than 3,000 hospital beds, 600 resuscitation beds, 500 concentrators and 250 respirators are in the ordering process with UN agencies. In addition, an oxygen production plant and eight laboratories are under construction. 
The fight against Covid-19 has permitted the global reorganisation and rehabilitation of major health facilities in all the ten regions of the country as well as the logistics management system for drugs to ensure their availability at all levels. Health personnel also gained skills in management, diagnostic techniques, infection prevention, control methods, epidemiological surveillance and contact follow-up of patients. These intervention and rapid investigation teams, Dr Esso says, are functional at all levels, including district health facilities. 
With regard to health monitoring, the crisis has made it possible for the health system to effectively operate a call centre for telephone monitoring at 1510. Psychological care capacities have also been strengthened with the training of staff and the establishment of a call centre for psychological follow-up at 1511. Medical personnel have also been trained on risk communication in times of health crisis. This engagement has helped mobilise the populations to stop the transmission of the disease and get their feedback so that response actions and messages are tailored to the communities' needs.  

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