Cameroon – HIV: Who’s afraid of the new routine screening?

Written by Deckson N.

The measure announced last Friday by the Ministry of Public Health already raises questions in relation to human rights.

The Cameroonian government adopts strong measures to fight HIV/AIDS. From now henceforth, it will be offered to every patient presenting to a clinic for any medical consultation, to pass the AIDS test. Facing the press last Friday, the Minister of Public Health, André Mama Fouda, recalled the eight circular letters and decisions he has recently signed and which will now be new weapons of Cameroon against HIV/AIDS. These various ministerial acts already raised, in public opinion, legal risks for human rights and of those infected, have three important dimensions. The measure is aimed, according to the the MINSANTE, “to bring as many people to know their HIV status.” Apart from systematic screening in hospitals, the government wants to promote rapid tests and recommends the deployment of psychosocial and pediatric escorts. Similarly, Mobile units will roam the cities and countryside of the country throughout the year for the same cause.

It’s good to know that, testing is free for those under 15 years, pregnant women and TB patients and 500 F for other social strata. The Cameroonian government’s objective is to reach the figure of 1.5 million people screened in 2016 and 1.8 million in 2017.

The second line of these new directions is the placing of the systematic treatment under the strategy “Test and treat” (screening and treatment). It is now required that “any person screened and confirmed positive should be directly under treatment.” This support does not need to wait for the prior assessment of CD4. To do this, announces the MINSANTE, 88 new support units have been created to bring the services specified to populations.

Finally, the third area of ​​interest concerns the biological monitoring of patients started on ART. Cameroon plans to pass from 168 000 patients in 2015 to 224 000 in 2016 to 302 000 in late 2017. In this logic, the cost of the viral load test that is done semi-annually or annually was reduced to 5000F. This new device within the scope of the implementation of the acceleration of antiretroviral therapy plan is in line with the broad guidelines for HIV, including new WHO guidelines and purpose “90-90-90” . Cameroon is part of the global movement of this struggle, which stipulates that 90% of people living with HIV know their HIV status, 90% of patients receive treatment and 90% of people on treatment reach a status of viral suppression.

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Deckson N.

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