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AFCIG, World Bank Combat Malpractices In Bamenda Public Hospitals 

CameroonPostline.com — Poor governance and corrupt practices in the health sector can be a matter of life and death, especially for the poor. An IMF study across 71 countries showed that health sectors with high incidences of corruption, poor customer service and lack of transparency and accountability have the highest infant mortality rates.

Bribes to avoid government regulation of drugs, for example, have contributed to the rising problem of counterfeit drugs which lead to increased disease resistance and death. These are all true of the health sector in Cameroon and Bamenda.

Corruption mitigation strategies should focus on corruption prevention by strengthening transparency, enforcing accountability and stakeholder participation in the health sector. These must be linked to measures to detect abuse and apply sanctions.

Addressing bad governance and corruption may seem daunting, but experiences from around the world have shown that a collective response can be effective.

It is against the backdrop of these issues that Action Foundation Common Initiative Group, AFCIG (www.afcig.org) secured funds for the implementation of its health governance initiative entitled ‘Your Health Your Say’, from the World Bank’s Cameroon Development Marketplace (www.cameroondm.org) in July 2011.

The Your Health Your Say initiative, YHYS, which kicked off effectively in January 2012, is a multi-stakeholder project whose strength hinges on the active participation of the population of Bamenda in healthcare delivery. It aims to improve on the quality of health service delivery by empowering the population, including community representatives and the media to take active part in the management of public hospitals, standing up for the rights of patients/users and publicly denouncing malpractices. In the long run the project will instill social control in healthcare delivery.

It shall involve the evaluation of the performance of five public hospitals in Bamenda, namely; the Bamenda Regional Hospital, the Mulang Health Centre, the Tinka Medical Health Centre (CMA Mankon), the Azire Health Centre and the Atuakom Health Centre. The evaluation shall be conducted by patients/users of these public hospitals using a tested client satisfaction survey system. The performance of the hospitals shall be ranked in terms of sanitation, governance and service quality and widely published using all available media.

Three and a half months into the implementation of the initiative, much has already been accomplished by the AFCIG team.

The baseline study of the initiative has been concluded and revealed that whilst majority of stakeholders realise that a governance problem exists in the health sector in Bamenda, concrete concerted actions to cause real change are limited.  Worse still, 68 percent of patients interviewed, run away from the problem as follows: a) 42 percent by avoiding hospitals where they have been poorly treated and 26 percent return home disgruntled. Only 32 percent act by reporting the problem to a) the manager of the hospital (26 percent), b) to the media (3 percent) or c) to the management committee (3 percent).

Patients can therefore play a greater role in improving the quality of service delivery and governance at public hospitals, if educated on how to face malpractices and increase the percentage of those who take concrete action.

The client feedback system, including the questionnaires that will be administered to patients/users and the framework for the analyses of data, has been finalised with the contribution of all stakeholders including the Northwest Regional Delegation of Public Health. The Delegation is enthusiastic about the initiative and is looking forward to advocating for the adoption of the evaluation tools throughout the region, once successfully implemented in Bamenda.

A couple of volunteer whistleblowers are revealing malpractices taking place within public hospitals. Radio sensitisation programmes are being broadcasted over local radio stations. The Facebook page of the initiative has been created at www.facebook.com/yourhealthyoursay.

The implementation of these preliminary activities has provided the AFCIG team with key insights on blowing out the mass sensitisation component of the initiative. The stage has been set, the momentum is building; now is the time for the general public to join the combat and have their say and create the required impact by standing up individually and collectively for best governance practices in public hospitals.

To participate:

•    Partake in interactive radio programmes to share ideas and experiences and hold managers of public hospitals and community representatives to account;
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•    Follow up on YHYS press conferences to keep stakeholders informed about YHYS outcomes;
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•    Contribute to the evaluation of public hospitals by filling out questionnaires;
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•    Follow ‘Your Health, Your Say’ on Facebook at www.facebook.com/yourhealthyoursay by ‘liking’ the page and having your say. Here you can share your experiences on malpractices that you have witnessed in public hospitals and also obtain information about the timing of evaluations, interactive radio sensitisation programmes and press conferences.
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For more information about the initiative contact the AFCIG team at info@afcig.org or 75 33 39 08/98 00 52 53 or visit the AFCIG office at the 2nd Floor of the Mezam Pharmacy Building, at Commercial Avenue.

“Your Health, Your Say (YHYS)” is implemented in partnership with CRS administering the project on behalf of The World Bank.

First published in The Post print edition no. 01338

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