Health Services Utilisation before and during an Armed Conflict; Experiences from the Southwest Region of Cameroon
Eposi C. Haddison1, *, Chia E. Julius2, Benjamin M. Kagina3
1 Regional Delegation of Public Health, Centre Region, Buea, Cameroon
2 International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), Cape Town Component, Cape Town, South Africa
3 Vaccines for Africa Initiative (VACFA), University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Armed conflicts are a threat to the health of populations in affected areas. The threat can have several forms, such as direct injury or disruption of health service delivery and utilisation. There has been an armed conflict (Anglophone crisis) in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon since 2017. We assessed the utilisation of health services before and during the armed conflict s in the Southwest region of Cameroon.
A retrospective study of surveillance data was carried out between 2016 and 2018. Regional data for selected routine immunisation, reproductive health, disease surveillance and HIV/AIDS indicators were retrieved. The data were presented as frequencies and described narratively.
In general, there was a difference in the utilisation of health services before and during the armed conflict. Specifically, there was an improvement in health service utilisation indicators from 2016 to 2017, followed by a decline in 2018. The DPT3 vaccination coverage dropped from 90% in 2017 to 55% in 2018; deliveries attended by qualified personnel dropped from 46% in 2017 to 26% in 2018; the absolute number of people tested for HIV dropped from 20,3987 in 2017 to 18,3654 in 2018.
The utilisation of health services by the population of the Southwest region declined during the armed conflict. This decline could have a significant impact on the population’s health and potentially affect the set global health targets such as improved vaccination coverage in all districts. Due to the armed conflict, there were challenges with regard to accessing health services. Local, national, regional and global authorities must work together to develop risk mitigating interventions in settings with armed conflicts to preserve the delivery and utilisation of health services.
Keywords: Armed conflict, Anglophone crisis, Southwest, health services, Cameroon, Health Services.
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