By Leocadia Bongben
Cameroonians have been urged to welcome survey teams to their homes and get tested for HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B, besides biological examinations carried out in household for free.
This is the essence of the voluntary HIV/AIDS headcount; dubbed Cameroon Population-based HIV Impact Assessment-CAMPHIA which would involve 14,000 households randomly selected through-out the national territory.
Public Health Minister, Andre Mama Fouda launched CAMPHIA on March 13 at the Yaoundé Hilton Hotel in the presence of stakeholders.
CAMPHIA is funded by the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, PEPFAR, through the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC and implemented by the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, ICAP.
Launching the project, Mama Fouda urged all Cameroonians to welcome the survey teams which will have nurses, laboratory technicians to analyse the blood on the spot, test the viral load-the amount of HIV in the blood and the amount of cells that can fight HIV for those positive and direct them to where they can get treatment.
The survey teams would visit randomly selected households and gather information with their consent. The whole process is voluntary with questions asked, followed by counselling for those positive after tests and results provided the same day.
It is estimated that process would last for about seven months would commence in the days ahead with survey staff trained and ready for the field work.
The Minister reassured the public of the confidentiality of the survey and proper handling of blood according to the public health approved standards.
He underscored the importance of many Cameroonians knowing their status given that the members of a family, father mother and children would be tested.
“There is no need to be scared of knowing your status because this would help to live a responsible life. I would be happy to know my wife or child does not have HIV or Hepatitis B. If carrier of the virus, it is important to get treatment and not wait. One can have HIV without actually getting sick”, he advised.
“It is important for everybody to know their status, and for everybody to get treatment so as to reach the 90-90 90 target where 90 percent Cameroonians would know their status, 90 percent get treatment and 90 percent suppression of viral load by 2020 and eventual elimination of HIV/AIDS”.
In 2014 UNAIDS set the 90-90-90 target, an ambitious treatment three part target to be achieved by 2020.
Given that HIV/AIDS indicators are not available, Mama Fouda, maintained that the survey would help the government know if it is on track since the survey conducted in 2011. HIV/AIDS prevalence according the 2011 Demographic and Health Survey, DHS, is pegged at 4.3 percent for adults from 15-49.
The survey would also provide a broader understanding of HIV response at both national and regional level, guide investment, target programmes for with greater risks, and those in need of services most and determine user satisfaction with health systems and policy formulation.
By Leocadia Bongben
Yaounde-Are you persistently sad, lack interest and capacity to accomplish daily tasks for more than two weeks, you can consider yourself depressed.
If you also have the feeling of guilt, uselessness, trouble with sleep and appetite and losing weight, having difficulties to concentrate, talk about it and seek medical advice, because, you are depressed.
The above sums-up World Health Organisation, WHO’s definition of depression, associated with mental disorder.
The principal causes of depression are the loss of a dear one, poverty, joblessness, physical illness, abusive consumption of alcohol and drugs, besides violence and war.
Within this precinct, Dr. Jean Baptiste Rougou, WHO Cameroon Representative says depression is a reoccupying health problem, particularly in Cameroon, Africa and the world.
He made the statement during the commemoration of the World Health Day on April 7, also the date of the creation of WHO, at the Yaounde Hilton Hotel.
The day, celebrated under the theme; “Depression, Let Talk,” was chaired at by the Minister of Public Heath, Andre Mama Fouda, in the presence of the health family.
According to Rougou, attributed to witchcraft and spiritual practices, cases of depression are on the rise which makes it a public health problem.
He quoted the message WHO Regional Director, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, that, “depression, which is a major cause of incapacity, affects about 332 million people the world over, with about 30 million in Africa”.
“We are all exposed to the risk of depression which touches every person in all ages. Stigmatisation and fear of social isolation prevents those affected from going for treatment…” Moeti said.
She maintained that it is essential to identify depressive episodes from the beginning so as to avoid transformation into a chronic disease.
Depression leads to suicide which, is the second cause of deaths in the world in young people between 15-29 years, varies in age and is more acute between 55-74 years.
Dr. Felicien Ntone Enyime, psychiatrist, one of the few five for the 20 million Cameroonians, depression, which is multifaceted, affecting both the mental and physical would need the more general doctors to provide the needed care.
He equally said, to come out of a situation of depression, there is need for community services besides physical exercise, taking regular walks to sweat out depression.
WHO is helping with the Global Action Programme and intervention guide and the Global Mental Health Action plan 2013-2020 to increase and improve healthcare services for people with mental disorder, by training health workers who are not specialists in mental health to give care.
The world health body therefore urges governments to allocate more human and financial resources to support mental health programmes to respond to the growing burden. Governments also need to include mental health in national agenda in line with the Brazzaville Declaration on non-communicable diseases outlining the steps on how to achieve this.
Celebrating 55 years in Cameroon, WHO counted achievements such as: support to Government and ameliorating the health of the population, rehabilitation of health systems in Garoua, digitalisation of the health card, construction and equipment of a maternity in Bafia, blood banks in 10 health centres, vaccination and polio eradication, support to emergency units, fight against neglected tropical diseases, malaria.
However, the challenges for WHO are numerous; regaining confidence of the population in health systems, closing the gap in the distribution of health personnel and add vigour to routine vaccination, among others.
WHO projects to encourage HIV/AIDS treatment for all, reinforce capacity in the prevention and response to emergencies and disasters, fight malaria, tuberculosis, mental health, maternal and infant mortality, among others.