Child Welfare: Cameroon, UNICEF Make Great Strides

The cooperation programme between Cameroon and the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, in the area of promotion of the rights of the child, runs from 2018-2020. Midway into its implementation, both sides say appreciable progress has been made. Speaking in Yaounde on January 23, 2020 at an evaluation meeting, Jacques Boyer, UNICEF Cameroon Country Representative, said in 2018, the mortality rate of children under five-year-old was 79 for 1,000 live births. As against 125 for every 1,000 live births in 1991. He attributed the achievement to concerted efforts by both sides.

On the other hand, in the pilot programme regions of Far North, North, Adamawa and East, birth registration for children is now higher than the national average. “Just in two years, we were able to triple the number of registrations within 90 days of birth – rising from 33 per cent to almost 100 per cent,” Boyer disclosed. “Nevertheless, challenges remain like increasing vaccination cover and reducing nutrition rates. The situation can be explained by insecurity in some regions. We therefore need to mobilise more resources and ensure greater security of field staff to enable them to carry out their work,” he added.

Aminata Touré, a member of the Technical Secretariat, Follow-up Committee of Implementation of Objectives of the Cameroon-UNICEF Programme, described UNICEF as one of government’s major technical partners in the area of promotion of child rights. “Without UNICEF’s support, we would certainly not have achieved the results,” Touré noted. She nevertheless added that much still had to be done in attaining better results in the programme that involves 12 ministries.

“Many Cameroonian parents still do not see the need to get birth certificates for their children. In the area of vaccination, donor support is becoming slimmer and slimmer. The major donor, Gavi, recently notified government that they will not be able to meet all expectations,” she disclosed. At any rate, donors are working hard to ensure 100 per cent vaccination cover and 100 per cent birth registration in Cameroon, Touré reassured.

The mid-term evaluation meeting was chaired by Jean Tchoffo, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Economy, Planning and Regional Development, MINEPAT. It was attended by 11 other permanent secretaries whose ministries are also involved in the Cameroon-UNICEF cooperation programme.

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