Universal Health Coverage : Parliamentarians at the Heart of Implementation Phase

Two months after the first phase of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) was launched in Cameroon, Members of Parliament (MPs) have said they will play a key role in the implementation of the first phase.

The MPs met in Yaounde on June 15, 2023 under the banner of the Parliamentary Network of Insurance, Financial and Monetary Institutions (REPPAS) to receive updates on the progress of the UHC and be schooled on their role in its implementation.

The meeting was jointly organized by the Parliamentary Network of Insurance, Financial and Monetary Institutions (REPPAS), Impact Santé Afrique and the Ministry of Public Health.

“Impact Santé Afrique is accompanying the Ministry of Public Health in the implementation of the UHC. Today, we have brought Parliamentarians to give them updates on the UHC after the launch of the first phase on April 12, 2023. About 7000 Cameroonians have registered for the UHC and we are calling on all Cameroonians to do so,” Sonia Hayatou, a staff from Impact Santé Afrique said.

According to a 2019 WHO report, access to health coverage in Cameroon in 2017 was 45.5% . This figure is slightly below the African average of 46%.

Life expectancy rate in Cameroon is 58 years, 60,6% in Central Africa and 61.2% in Subsaharan Africa. Experts say a successful implementation of the UHC will increase access to health coverage and the country’s life expectancy rate.

“Parliamentarians should be involved in all stages of the implementation of the UHC. Sometimes projects are being executed and we are not informed. It is important to tell us what is expected of us when we go to the field. It’s important for us to be prepared for this task,” Tchouaga Marie-Louis, MP for Haut Nkam explains.

Awaiting a legal framework

There is not yet a legal framework governing the implementation of the UHC in Cameroon. The MPs say they expect the government to propose a legal framework that will be voted in the favour of all Cameroonians.

“We need a legal framework for the UHC. The UHC will help us have a country where there is access to health care, and doctors will no longer ask for money from patients. So when people go the hospital, they will have to give their UHC number and have free health care even if they are suffering from kidney failure. It’s a very big progress we should keep and make every Cameroonian be part of it.” Hon Djeumeni Benilde, President of REPAS told Crtv Web.

As Government’s efforts to implement the UHC in Cameroon continue, the MPs will be expected to educate Cameroonians in their constituencies to register for the UHC.

UHC in Cameroon

On December 31, 2017, the Head of State, Paul Biya told Cameroonians he had “instructed the government to finalize discussions on the way to progressively implement the UHC.”

Eight years later, the first phase of the UHC was launched in Cameroon in Mandjou, East Region of Cameroon by the country’s Public Health Minister, Dr. Manaouda Malachie. This pilot phase will cost approximately FCFA 95 billion.

All Cameroonians can benefit from the UHC and about 7000 have registered so far.

Registration for the UHC can be done at the nearest enrollment centre or with the help of an enrollment agent identified by a badge. A UHC Card is issued after registration for use in hospitals.


Kathy Neba Sina

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