The newly elected President of the Board of Directors of UNITAID Mrs. Marisol Touraine the Former French Minister of Health and Social Affairs and Rights of the Woman conducted a high profile visit to Cameroon in February-March 2020.
During the welcome dinner where were invited personalities of the government of Cameroon, members of the French Embassy, bilateral partners, private sector and the civil society organisations in the Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) and civil society organisations that are not also of the CCM, she started her speech with a presentation of UINITAID and its purpose. After visiting many hospitals in Cameroon such as that of Ebolowa in the South of Cameroon, she appreciated everyone for the commitment in fighting HIV, TB and Malaria. She pledged UNITAID continued support in fighting these three diseases in Cameroon and globally. Regarding the key population, she reminded everyone that we can’t win the fight against HIV while there is practice of discrimination against some categories of the population.
In Cameroon, UNITAID in fighting, AIDS, Malaria and TB has been contributing in the domains of institutional strengthening of the health system notably in research and drugs. One of their research study NAMSALANRS on accessing the efficacy of ARV drugs in 2016. The results obtained after 48 months showed those on Dolutegravir had 84% undetectable vial load suppression and those on Efavirenz 400 had 74% undetectable viral load suppression. The impact of this study is that patients in Cameroon are gradually being placed on Dolutegravile as the first line drug.WHO welcomes NAMSAL trial findings on dolutegravir on 14 November 2018 – The World Health Organization (WHO) welcomes the results from NAMSAL (New Antiretroviral and Monitoring Strategies in HIV-infected Adults in Low-income countries), a study conducted in Cameroon by the French Agency for Research on AIDS and Viral Hepatitis (ANRS). The study compared the efficacy of two first-line treatments for HIV infection in more than 600 participants. The results of the trial show that dolutegravir-based treatment is not inferior to treatment with efavirenz (400 mg). In the specific context of treatment for people living with HIV in Southern countries, the researchers believe that first-line treatment with dolutegravir is a good alternative to efavirenz.
The participation of the civil of the society in fighting the 3 diseases in Cameroon has been commendable. They are in all the levels national as grantees of international partners contributing to the realization of the national health strategy. They also work at the macro level alongside with the Ministry of Health as principal recipients complimentarily. At the sub national (regional) meso level the health care delivery and systems are strengthened by the activities of the civil societies and at community levels, they are the bedrock of health care delivery where they take health care to the every nook and cranny, doorsteps of people infected and affected by diseases as community health care workers. They contribute enormously to generating the most needed data as evidence to influence policy and change. The works of the civil society is not limited to HIV, TB and malaria as it extends to nutrition, vaccination, sexual and reproductive health, removing human rights barriers, advocacy amongst others. In an effort to strengthen its role and valorize its works, a national coalition of civil societies working in health has been created. Though in its second year running now, it has quickly gathered steam and support from the civil society, partners for health and the government.
The participation of the CCM in health in Cameroon cannot not be underestimated especially in HIV, TB and Malaria. They support and facilitate the processes and activities of the different health partners including the Global Fund, UNIAIDS, UNICEF, UNITAIDS, PEPFAR, and Civil Societies. The CSO Delegation of the CCM as well as CCM Cameroon are even stronger now with the CCM Evolution process of the Global Fund where the governance framework has been reviewed and strengthened to render it more performant.
The civil society in Cameroon strongly feel activities of UNITAID in Cameroon are mostly government stream and its interaction and activities with the civil society should be stronger and more engaging. It is with great expectations that the civil society in Cameroon are looking forward to the newly elected President of the Board of Directors of UNITAID Mrs. Marisol Touraine to change the paradigm towards a more engaging UNITAID with the civil society. Together we are stronger.
By Nancy Bolima
Executive Director HEDECS (NGO)
Vice President CCM Cameroon