After suspension of activities: Doctors Without Borders says dialogue ongoing with gov’t for return to NW, SW.

Alexis Bahati: MSF Head of Mission to Cameroon

Renowned international medical charity, Doctors Without Borders, MSF, has disclosed that the organisation is currently in talks with government for a possible resumption of their activities in the crisis-hit North West and South West Regions of the country.

The disclosure was made Thursday June 13 in Yaounde. 

This was during a presser organised to flag off the 40th anniversary celebration of the humanitarian activities of Doctors Without Borders in Cameroon.

The medical charity withdrew from the South West Region in April 2022, two years after their activities were suspended by government in the North West Region.

Government had banned their activities after accusing the medical and humanitarian organisation of supporting the activities of armed groups operating in the North West Region.

But speaking at a presser in Yaounde, authorities of the Cameroon Office of the global medical organisation, disclosed that they were currently engaged in a dialogue with government for a possible resumption of their activities in the Anglophone regions.

The Head of Mission of Doctors Without Borders to Cameroon, Alexis Bahati, who spoke to a small group of newsmen at the Yaounde gathering, stated that negotiations were far advanced for a return of their medical teams to the English-speaking regions of the country.

He was, however, quick to maintain that the decision for them to return to the two regions lies more with government.

“Doctors Without Borders is not the decider as to when our activities might resume in the North West and South West Regions but the government is aware that we are in the country. They are aware of our experience and capacity. When the dialogue is over and when it will be possible, we will resume. At the moment, there is no plan yet but MSF is happy with the ongoing discussions with government,” Bahati said.

Quizzed to comment on allegations from government including the transportation of arms in the Anglophone regions, Bahati said he wasn’t in the right position to comment.

He, however, said his organisation has been discussing the issues with government but declined providing details of the discussions.

“You just mentioned that there are allegations. I am not in the position now to comment on that allegation because there have been a number of discussions and there was even an involvement of the tribunal about those allegations, so I am sorry for not being able to give you details about the allegations and how the situation has evolved,” he told newsmen.


40 years of humanitarian impact in Cameroon

Last Thursday’s press lunch was principally organised to unveil the details of the 40th anniversary of Doctors Without Borders in Cameroon.

MSF has been present in Cameroon since 1984. The global body has been committed to supporting the Ministry of Public Health.

Present in eight of Cameroon’s 10 regions, the organisation has provided support in emergency management as well as in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the cities of Yaounde and Douala (1984-2013) and in the management of Buruli ulcer (2002-2014). 

MSF has also intervened in emergency situations, such as cholera and measles epidemics, and the care of flood victims.

From 2007 to 2009, and again from 2014 to 2016, MSF provided medical, nutritional and psychological assistance to refugees from the Central African Republic resident in the East Region.

From April 2015 to July 2017, MSF provided medical assistance to Nigerian refugees in the Minawao refugee camp. From 2018 to 2022, MSF was present in the North-West and South-West to improve access to healthcare for populations affected by the security crisis in the said regions. MSF also provided support in the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic.

Since March 2015, MSF has been providing assistance to people displaced by the conflict and refugees in the Lake Chad region. 

Two major projects have been implemented in Maroua and Mora, and numerous emergency interventions in several localities such as Kousseri and Mokolo. 

MSF provided emergency surgery and post-operative care at the Maroua regional hospital between 2016 and 2020. 

In Mora, MSF provided paediatric care and treatment for malnutrition in children under the age of five. 

In addition to the said care, MSF provides mental health care and health promotion activities. 

MSF teams have also responded to a number of emergencies in the Far North region, including measles, cholera and Covid 19. 


Taking healthcare closer to persons in need

Today, at Mora district hospital, MSF is providing free care for surgical and obstetric emergencies for displaced people and host communities. 

In Kourgui, MSF provides free emergency paediatric and nutritional care for children under the age of 15, as well as sexual and reproductive health care. 

In order to bring healthcare closer to people who do not have access to health structures, MSF launched a community health project in May 2019 in the health areas of Kolofata and Limani, close to the Nigerian border.

A network of 42 community relays spread across the villages of the Limani and Kolofata have been trained and equipped to treat simple cases of malaria and diarrhoea, as well as detecting acute malnutrition in children and referring to the nearest health centre.


This story was first published in The Guardian Post issue No:3142 of Tuesday June 18, 2024

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