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From aspiration to reality: Cameroon sets the stage for universal health coverage (UHC) - P4H Network

From aspiration to reality: Cameroon sets the stage for universal health coverage (UHC)

Universal health coverage takes hold in Cameroon, undergirded by political will, budget commitments, coordinated stakeholders. In 2023, Cameroon prioritizes women’s health and health services for children under five years of age in five of 10 regions. 

Roll-out of universal health coverage (UHC) in Cameroon

UHC took centre stage in health systems following worldwide commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Cameroon has been steadfastly working towards ensuring that all people have access to the health services they need, when and where they need them, without financial hardship.

The government of Cameroon decided to advance UHC in phases. Phase-I, starting in 2023, is being implemented in five of the country’s 10 regions. The beneficiary population of Phase-I will be pregnant women and children under 5 years of age. The country plans to cover gynaecology and obstetric care services, neonatal care services, and, for children 0-5 years of age, malaria care and office visits. 

A key dynamic: dialogue among stakeholders, across sectors

Drawing on her experience in health financing and promoting efficiencies, P4H country focal person (P4H-CFP) Aminata Nana actively supported a workshop on the complementarity of existing health financing mechanisms. She facilitated collaborations and dialogue among state actors and development partners including the World Bank Group, the World Health Organization, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit and Agence française de développement (AFD).

Aminata seeks out opportunities for multisectoral coordination to facilitate preparation for Phase-I of the UHC programme. At a Ministry of Finance event defining a simplified payment scheme to ensure the success of UHC Phase-I, Aminata supported discussion on public financial management rules that later were adopted

P4H-CFP Aminata plays the role of honest broker and cross-sector catalyst in Cameroon. Since February 2022, she has actively contributed to the Phase-I UHC technical committee and promoted collaboration among stakeholders. 

Nationally financed dedicated budget line set for UHC

Cameroon created a dedicated budget line of €53.56 million (some US$ 51.71 million) to implement Phase-I of the UHC programme in 2023. 

The finance bill, including the €53.56 million, was passed by the parliament in December 2022. The country will draw lessons from Phase-I to revise the draft law on UHC before it is submitted to the National Assembly.

The creation of this budget line and the effective start of Phase-I of the UHC programme mark the culmination of well-targeted technical work. It shows the government’s political will to translate the SDG commitments into concrete actions as expressed in the declaration by Cameroon’s president in 2019. 

Featured image on top: Senior managers and technical specialists at a brainstorming workshop on output-based financing and the integration of existing health financing mechanisms for UHC Phase-I. Mbankomo, 4 May 2022. Credit: Aminata Nana, P4H-CFP.