Public Health equality in a trench


(Martha Dominguez de Gouveia, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. WUNDE Njineck URBAINE, a medial student at the Faculty of Health Sciences of the University of Bamenda, Cameroon. He is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

The health system in Cameroon is highly diversified, and entry into the business landscape seems to be very easy and accessible. The sector can be grossly divided into the public and private sector. The private sector is divided into the confessional subsector,the corporate subsector and the individualised subsectors.

Health privitization in most low and middle income countries definitely has brought about some sense of inequality in this industry, given the cost of private health care is much more exorbitant than it is the case with public health care. It is undeniably true that the quality of health services in these private sectors is considerably higher than it is the case in the public sector. However, this brings about stratification in the populations, making the less-rich to constantly have the feeling their health care is not upto standard  (when compared with those in the private wards however).

This has a propensity to result to another health challenge – the psychosocial well-being of the patient. Is he/she secure,safe about what is being administered to him/her as health services? Of course there is a health inequality.

Recently in Cameroon, there has been a talk everywhere about Universal health coverage. This is an attempt by policy to equalise standards and make health care affordable and available to all at a minimum cost. It is equally true that presently, many Cameroonians are informed about health insurance and as a matter of fact,most have subscribed on the lists of most insurance companies, given most employers emphasize  this aspect on their contracts with their workers, to ensure the health of their workforce and as a matter of fact, sign partnerships with these insurance  companies. How then do these affect investment in public health? Public health units in Cameroon are the major health tenets, as a result, governments budgeting on these have been amended to suit the change.

It is true however in most economies that the government does not seek to compete the private sector. But the case in Cameroon has been lot different; for the past few months the standards and investments on public health have been on the rise, with government paying particular attention to the welfare of patients. But this doesn’t mean the government in this sector has outsmarted the private and especially  confessional subsector, who have left no stone within their capacities unturned in favour of aiding the betterment of healthcare services. As a matter of fact, government actions set the pace for other actors in the sector to make positive amends in their services, hence making them more expensive.

This mere fact brings about inequality in the health sector but does not necessarily impair investment in public health. The health system as at now is yet  for equality talk less of equity. The reality is indeed a sad one, where the reality places the well-to-do at a far top with all the opportunities,and the less wealthy in an actual trench, far below the standards for primary health care. The image below may serve as an analogy to express my opinion about the state of equality on the healthcare platform. Equality in terms of health care in Cameroon is still a myth,talk less of equity. The reality has it that the priviledged even go as far as taking on the advantages and benefits of the masses to enrich themselves and secure for themselves high standard and cost, mostly at the profit of private or multinational bodies in the health care system. The effect on this on investment and government budgeting on public health is not documented,but has not been known to make any marked variations in these aspects.

We hope that in time and with time, investment in public health infrastructure and personnel will increase, at the benefit of even the peasant population everywhere at all time.

About the author

Mr. WUNDE Njineck URBAINE, M.S. is a medial student at the Faculty of Health Sciences of the University of Bamenda, Technical Adviser #2 at the Medical students association in this same university. He is affiliated to IFMSA and was the 1st 2019 Professor Erik Holst Scholar. He is passionate about service to humanity first and is poised towards attaining peculiar goals in the field of medicine and beyond. He relies on his efforts coupled with those of his team members to bring a betterment in health care delivery in Cameroon.

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