On October 7, 2010, Dr. Mama Fouda of the Cameroonian Ministry of Public Health, approved the creation of the National Immunization Trust Fund (NITF) as an alternative for sustainable immunization financing in Cameroon. This political commitment is the result of a comprehensive change on long term immunization financing, facilitated by the Sustainable Immunization Financing program at the Sabin Vaccine Institute and done with the helpful support of both the WHO, and UNICEF Cameroon.
The inception of this change began with the assessment of the main challenges of immunization financing in a December 2009 sub-regional meeting in in Dakar, Senegal. Resulting from the assessment, were the drafting of finding alternative solutions for immunization financing for participating countries: Cameroon, Mali, and Senegal. In a May 2010 following sub-regional meeting in Yaounde was opened by Dr. Mama Fouda, Parliamentarians, maires, and technical staff from the Ministries of Economic and Planning, Finance, and Decentralization, all worked together to formulate a recommendation to establish a National Immunization Trust Fund for each of the three countries.
A similar process started in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC); Parliamentarians and technical advisers from both Cameroon and the DRC agreed to engage in a Sabin SIF sponsored peer exchange. From September 11-15, Delegations from both countries met in Yaounde, Cameroon, to share their experiences. Despite GAVI’s fiscal support for immunization funds, the present government budget stands at less than 20% for these funds. Convinced that immunization is the best investment to achieve Millennium Development Goal 4 (reducing by 2/3 the rate of child mortality), all agreed to draft a “Call for Action” asking their government to address the problem of immunization financing, and to treat it as a development priority.
The Yaounde Call for Action was conceived and signed by the Honorable Gaston Komba, President of the Finance and Budget Committee of Parliament, as well as by Professor Lazard Kaptue, the General Secretary of the Association des Villes et Communes Unies du Cameroun, (who served as both the chairman of the May Sub-Regional meeting as well as for the Sabin sponsored Peer Exchange.) After discussions at October 1st’s ICCA Meeting, this document was then sent to the Ministry of Health for review.
Briefed by both the Honorable Gaston Komba and Honorable Amougou Mezang, the Minister of Health gave his final approval for the creation of the National Immunization Trust Fund on October 7, 2010. The Minister of Health asked that the EPI Team to work closely with the SIF program at the Sabin Vaccine Institute, as well as with the Legal Services department of the Ministry of Health to assist in the beginnings of drafting a law which would secure the establishment of a National Immunization Trust Fund in Cameroon.