Via IRIN Africa: CAMEROON: Cholera fight goes local. Excerpt:
Devolving power to local authorities is helping Cameroon step up its fight against a two-year cholera outbreak, say government and aid agency staff.
In 2010 decision-making and financing on health, water infrastructure and education was devolved to the country’s 376 local government councils. Slow to get going at first, since early 2011 these councils have more effectively fought to prevent cholera, said Casimir Youmbi, programme manager of Plan International in Cameroon.
Since four councillors took charge of preventing transmission in Mokolo, capital of Mayo Tsanaga Department in the Far North Region, which had the highest concentration of cholera cases in 2010, there have been no new cases, said Mayor Martin Geedeme Rewetem of Koza Council, near Mokolo City. Councillors have sent volunteers house to house to spread awareness of the importance of hand-washing and good hygiene practices.
A number of regions have set up emergency funds to battle the disease and prepare for future crises, which has sped up the response, said Youmbi. An emergency fund set up by the mayor of Founban, in Western region, has led to a decline in new cases reported at the local hospital, according to aid agencies.
Local government is quicker to respond, and much better placed to identify which areas are most in need of cholera treatment and prevention-messaging, said Mayor Rewetem.
“Local councillors are now in the forefront of the battle. More and more, they are taking the lead... That is the only long-term possibility to stem the cholera outbreak and prevent new cases,” said Plan’s Youmbi.
As of mid-June 2011, 8,450 cholera cases had been reported, and 281 people have been killed by cholera in nine of the country’s 10 regions since the beginning of 2010. The South West, Littoral, West and Central regions are currently the worst-affected, as the disease spread southwards.