Informed research made at Minawao Integrated Health Centre indicates that the birth rate in the Minawao refugee settlement, Far-North Cameroon, is very high; with an average of 248 births per month. Many couples are having many children at close intervals, threatening their survival chances and despite the challenges they face.
To ensure a healthy start in life for children and reduce neonatal, infant and maternal mortality, Plan International in partnership with UNFPA, has introduced educational talks to sensitise parents on the importance of family planning and its advantage for the family and for children.
Plan International is supporting the training of medical personnel and community health workers to make sure the initiative is a success.
“We have 60 community health workers (CHW) engaged in the education of refugee families on family planning and reproductive health practices through sensitisation, home visits, educative discussions and referrals to the Minawao medical centers. In the past, we had a monthly average of 7 to 10 women coming for family planning services, but today thanks to this project and the work of the CHWs, we register over 255 women for the family planning services, monthly,” declares the Head of the Minawao Integrated Health Centre.
Moreover, Plan International also ensures mothers are well cared for and undertake a series of medical tests. Later on, they are provided with free family planning methods and contraceptives. Salome Andreas, 26, is a Nigerian refugee and mother of three. She enjoys the change in her family’s life style.
“My husband and I realised the risk of having many children and at short intervals. After receiving family planning education from the CHWs, we decided to take a birth break and I was administered a family planning method. Today we leave happily and focus our resources on our 3 children to ensure their proper growth,” she says.
Plan International is committed to ensure all refugee children of Minawao settlement assess their right to a healthy start in life, and uses mobile clinic operations, house to house sensitisation on family planning, counselling of women by medical personnel, and campaigning for the promotion of modern contraceptive methods, to reduce neonatal, infant and maternal mortality.
Lasting partnership for greater impact
Plan International started working with UNFPA in 2014, to improve access to reproductive health services and family planning in 32 health areas of 6 health districts in the Far-North region of Cameroon. The project targets women/couples as well as girl/boys of childbearing ages. In August 2015, the project extended to the Minawao refugee settlement to ensure Nigerian refugee children have opportunity to grow up with healthy parents within safer families.
Following the satisfactory results of the project and the increasing need for follow up and extension of the family planning and reproductive health services, Plan International and UNFPA have extended the project to December 2016. The project coverage has also doubled from 6 to 12 health districts.