Cameroon: Leader in Public Health Emergency Readiness and Response

One of the first african countries to have a Multi-hazard Readiness and Response Plan for Public Health Emergencies

Unprecedented health context

More than ever, the world is facing health imperatives including disasters, epidemics, emergencies increasingly incisive and deadly, increasing the vulnerability of individuals, families, communities, States and the entire planet.

To this end, Cameroon, like other nations, has developed strategies to have life-saving responses to these multiple disasters and public health emergencies. The current health context marked by the covid19 pandemic and the lessons learned from the management of previous public health emergencies have motivated the Cameroonian government to develop this strategic document which will henceforth be the compass for the management of public health emergencies in Cameroon. In addition, following the report of the joint external evaluation EEC conducted in 2017 by the World Health Organization (WHO), in accordance with the requirements of the International Health Regulations (IHR), a legal document binding states to “prevent, protect against, control and respond to the international spread of disease,” the need to better coordinate actions for preparing for and responding to Public Health Emergencies has been noted. This is to strengthen its capacity to detect, notify and respond to public health emergencies.

Result of a strong political will

The National Multi-Hazard Readiness and Response Plan for Public Health Emergencies (PNMPR) is an emanation of the political will of the State of Cameroon, in conformity with international conventions on the environment, the sanitary codes for terrestrial and aquatic animals, and the “one health” approach being in the spotlight. This document, which is linked to the National Development Strategy 2020-2030 (NDS30), will serve as a common roadmap for all administrations involved in the management of public health events in Cameroon.

The PNMPR will address, among other things, weak multi-sectoral coordination in the preparedness process, weak operationality of the multi-sectoral surveillance system, weak capacities for rapid and efficient interventions, lack of sustainable post-emergency rehabilitation mechanisms, weak community involvement in the major risk mitigation process, and weak community empowerment in the organization of first aid.

PNMPR in brief

The 100-pages plan aims to strengthen national management of readiness and multisectoral response to priority public health emergencies in order to rapidly and effectively assist Cameroon’s disaster-affected populations over the period 2022-2024. It is estimated at 24,210,017,000 CFA francs (twenty-four billion two hundred and ten million seventeen thousand CFA francs). Based on a three-year plan (2022-2024), it aims to effectively improve the resilience of the national health system in case of public health emergencies. The planned funding sources are the State and the Technical and Financial Partners. The overall objective of the PNMPR is to strengthen national management of preparedness and multisectoral response to priority public health emergencies in order to quickly and effectively assist the affected populations of Cameroon over the period 2022 – 2024. To do so, it relies mainly on 7 strategies such as strengthening coordination, the epidemiological surveillance system, infrastructural, material and logistical capacities, risk communication and community engagement as well as the development of early recovery mechanisms.

A dynamic, determined and ambitious team

The Department for the control of Disease, Epidemics and Pandemics, has masterfully led this ambitious process, meeting the challenge of responding to both international requirements and political will in a context marked by the health crisis. The PNMPR, which is included in the priority files for the year 2021, as well as the 3rd edition of the guide for integrated disease surveillance and response, is progressively taking shape; shaped by a team that has offered all the actors involved the opportunity to update their agenda and to pool their interventions in the management of public health emergencies for a better resilience of the health system. The process adopted is based on feedback from the management of emergency situations in Cameroon, the identification of threats and hazards and the assessment of risks, the analysis of the country’s response capabilities and the analysis of the stakeholders.

Crowning of a long process

The meeting to adopt the PNMPR, this September 29, 2021 at Mont Fébé Hotel in Yaoundé, is the culmination of a process that lasted several months. Indeed, following elaboration workshops, the technical validation of the PNMPR took place from 15 to 17 September 2021 in Mbankomo, under the technical coordination of MINAT (DPC), MINSANTE (DLMEP and ONSP) and MINEPIA (DSV), according to a multisectoral, multidisciplinary, inclusive and participatory approach in the presence of the heads of the different stakeholder structures.

An innovative multisectoral approach

The PNMPR has the particularity of having brought together hundreds of personalities from different backgrounds for its drafting.

To this end, since the first day of the adventure, more than fifteen public administrations have been involved, including the services of the Prime Minister, the ministries of public health, foreign relations, environment, nature protection and sustainable development, territorial administration, defense, water and energy, fisheries and animal industry, The development partners such as CDC, WHO, UNICEF, World Bank, TDDA-DAI, METABIOTA, USAIDS, IFRC, MSF were also present. Civil society was represented by the CRC.

And if it was at the end that everything started?

After the adoption with great pomp and ceremony, the next steps planned are, among others, advocacy for the mobilization of funds, appropriation at all levels of the health pyramid and the implementation of planned activities.

Cameroon is better prepared for the coming years to respond effectively to public health emergencies. We can be proud of this.

Feel free to download the complete PNMPR exclusively through this link:

All the pictures of the adoption ceremony here.

Hemes NKWA

Posted by Yoheda

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