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Community evaluation of an integrated health access system in Cameroon

Date: Wednesday 31 October 10.45–12.15
Source: Forum 11
Authors: Emily Vargas-Barón, Director, The RISE Institute, USA

Abstract

The United Nations Children's Fund's (UNICEF) `Zone de Convergence' programme in Northern Cameroon is an innovative example of an integrated health approach designed to maximize access to essential health, nutrition, sanitation and other social services for families living in extreme poverty. Agencies of the government, civil society and the private sector provide these services. Through close programme collaboration, they also become `partners with parents'. Together, they provide a rich array of services that help ensure vulnerable children become healthy, well nourished, well developed, safe and protected.

When family members in participating communities enter any one of five `ports of entry', they are referred to the other four key services. The five ports of entry to services are: 1) health and nutrition; 2) HIV prevention; 3) water and sanitation; 4) education; and 5) protective services.

The programme has developed a rich evaluation system that is managed by the communities in collaboration with the array of local services. This evaluation system includes: child and family assessments; follow-up tracking of the child or family through each service and across all services; parent education to help achieve parent involvement and continuous service utilization; and, community self-assessment, including overall basic demographic and health statistics as well as information on the frequency of service provision and utilization. Community members are taught how to gather, manage, analyse and interpret data for the benefit of their entire community as well as for the `Zone de Convergence' programme as a whole.