Management Of Covid-19 Funds: Civil Society Faults Gov’t For Insufficient Water, Electricity Supply In Health Facilities




Members of a coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) pushing for transparent management of COVID-19 related funds have in a study recently conducted in six regions faulted government for inadequate supply of water and electricity in major health facilities within the context of the fight to curb the spread of the global health crisis. 

The CSOs made the observation during their second coalition meeting at the Solomon Tandeng Muna Foundation in Yaounde Friday Wednesday November 17, 2021. 

Members of the coalition were grouped under the COVID-19 Transparency and Accountability Project, CTAP. The project which is spearheaded in Cameroon by Actions for Development and Empowerment, ADE, in in partnership with a Nigeria organization, Follow the Money. The project also advocates open governance.


Addressing participants, Ndi Nancy Saiboh, Founder/CEO of ADE who doubles as Follow the Money Cameroon Lead, said the second coalition meeting focused on sharing information gotten from a research done on the state of primary healthcare services conducted in five regions of the country. 

“We had the CTAP tracking in the North West, Far North, East, South and Centre regions,” she revealed. Ndi Nancy expressed the wish for government to address poor information access in the accountability of COVID-19 resources and urged authorities to make results of findings earlier launched public. 

She noted that there cannot be any advocacy without data information. “Before we start talking about advocacy, it is important that we share with our audience what we have seen so far,” Ndi Nancy said, while calling on young Cameroonians to be inquisitive, ask pertinent questions in order push government to be accountable.
  
“Accountability and transparency leads to sustainable development goals. If there is no accountability there cannot be peace, there will be poverty because funds will be misused. CTAP is here to make sure that we engage with citizens and to make sure government engages CSOs when working on issues related to the population,” she said. 


Harping on the major findings of the research, Ndi Nancy, stated that it was realsed that access to water and electricity still remains major problems in health facilities in communities. 

“You cannot have a health service and there is no water. It is very impossible and electricity was a challenge in all of them 18 primary healthcare services we visited in these five regions. They had issues of electricity. They don’t even have generators. How do they keep or store these COVID-19 vaccines? These are things that government should look into. We will focus on grassroots communities because these are the people that need this information and thee services more and more,” she revealed, while calling on the government to make sure primary healthcare services have basic needs such as beds, refrigerators for COVID-19 vaccines so that it is going to encourage citizens to take the jabs.   

Obstacles to transparency, accountability 

The coalition report indicated that the free care of patients with COVID-19 is not effective in all care centers with inadequate supply of protective kits to health personnel while prescribed barrier measures are no longer respected especially in the most vulnerable population.
 
The report further indicated the reporting of fraud in several health facilities in the media; lack of oxygen cylinders and respirators in some hospitals which limits assistance to patients with respiratory problems; inadequacy of the protection kits dedicated to nursing staff exposed to contamination; risk involved in the return of bodies of those who died of the virus to families; the ambient misery which pushes some to recycle used facemasks; unsystematic wearing od facemask due to poverty; non-development of municipal cemeteries by many councils and cities; challenges of persons with disability due to inaccessibility to wash hand kits among others. 

Recommendations

The coalition report recommended among other things improved awareness campaigns on the application of barrier measures, reinforcement of checks and disciplinary measures on violators of COVID-19 rules, establishing of a system to give psychological assistance to health personnel and care to those suffering trauma, develop and implement a food support system, investigate reported cases of corruption, reinforce the participation of civil society in monitoring the response plan, setting up of an interactive and information platform among others. 

In a keynote address delivered during the meeting, Kah Walla said the work carried out by the coalition mainly made up of young people is very important and will enable many citizens to play their role in following public finances, asking questions and gathering information. 

She said public finance belongs to the general public and not few state officials reason why when there is embezzlement it affects their wellbeing. She urged government to take steps to bring those accused of embezzlement to be brought to book and even ensure they are expunged from their positions in the government. 

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