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Cameroon launches community programme for home-based care of families affected by HIV/AIDS

YAOUNDE, 2 June 2006 – Cameroonian Professor Dominique Obounou Akong, the Representative of the Minister of Public Health, presided over the launch of a community programme for home-based care of families affected by HIV/AIDS at the Chantal Biya’s Foundation’s headquarters in Yaounde.  Among the two hundred people attending the ceremony were representatives of the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, community volunteers and officials from the Ministry of Public Health as well as Chantal Biya’s Foundation.

The Director of the Mother and Child Care Centre of Chantal Biya’s Foundation, Professor Felix Tietche, opened the ceremony and spoke about the community-based programme.  “Many mothers and children who test positive for HIV do not return to hospitals for adequate care.  Yet these people, who are difficult to monitor, still remain in the community.  Since there are no means to reach them effectively, they were not previously enrolled in any care programme,” he said. 

The community programme for home-based care of families affected by HIV/AIDS offers a complementary approach to medical services to provide an integrated package of interventions.  Tietche also emphasized the main strategies being adopted to obtain better results, namely training of service providers and supervisors, organizing house-to-house visits, and monitoring and evaluation activities.  The programme, which became operational in April 2006, has achieved very encouraging results so far: 25 service providers and 15 supervisors trained, 136 house-to-house visits organized, approximately one hundred impregnated bed nets distributed and an effective ongoing database programme.

UNICEF Representative Mariam Coulibaly Ndiaye, in her address, linked this activity to the global Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS campaign, adding another ‘P’, for ‘partnership’.  “The concrete results we expect from this programme will surely help to achieve Millennium Development Goals 4, 5 and 6,” she noted.  She then recalled UNICEF’s support of advocacy and training activities, a donation of 20 kits for community extension workers and as well as medical supplies and essential drugs.  Ndiaye ended her speech by reiterating UNICEF’s commitment in favour of a world fit for women and children.

While taking the floor, Permanent Secretary of the Chantal Biya’s Foundation Bidoung Mkpatt welcomed all the invitees and noted that this great initiative came from the First Lady of Cameroon to extend the fight against HIV/AIDS on the community level.  She appealed to local councils to be committed to the initiative and to make it a success.  She reported that even if the rate of PMTCT acceptance for women attending antenatal clinic is rising, half of the women in Cameroon still deliver outside of health facilities and another half do not visit antenatal clinics.  Also, many children are difficult to monitor, another reason the programme launched today is very important.  “Scaling up, we’ll surely make a difference,’ she said.

The speech delivered by Professor Dominique Obounou Akong on behalf of the Minister of Health ended the ceremony.  He thanked the partners, notably WHO, FCB and UNICEF, for their strong support to improve the lives of women and children, and reiterated the Government’s commitment to protecting the population from HIV/AIDS.  He addressed a strong message to the recipients, saying, “Your role is determinant.  You are messengers of hope to many families who are on the brink of despair.  We are counting on you.”  Supplies and kits for outreach workers were then distributed.  The programme targets 48,900 women and children in Yaoundé, where the HIV prevalence rate is 5.5 per cent and only 13 out of 100 pregnant women are enrolled in prevention of mother-to-child transmission programmes.

For 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 155 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For more information, please contact:
Dr. Aissata Bâ Sidibé, UNICEF Health Officer, (asidibe@unicef.org), Tel. +237 770 2365
Dr. Linda Nsahtime-Akondeng, UNICEF Health Project Officer, lakondeng@unicef.org, Tel. +237 774 6590
Madam Langue-Menye, Communication Officer, glangue@unicef.org, Tel. +237 771 3627




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