Despite Good Economic Performance, Cameroon’s Health Indicators Have Not Improved
October 24, 2013
Yaoundé, October 24, 2013 – Entitled “Towards Greater Equity – A Special Focus on Health,” this sixth issue of the Cameroon Economic Update, published by the World Bank Office in Cameroon, assesses the macroeconomic situation and presents a special feature on the health sector in Cameroon.
Cameroon’s economic performance remains comparatively good in light of the slow growth observed in the rest of the world. Economic activity is estimated to have expanded by 4.4 percent in 2012 on the back of continued strong performance both in service and oil sectors. It is projected to carry over into 2013 with a further expansion of about 5 percent.
“These rates remain, nevertheless, too slow to deliver tangible improvements in the living conditions for the average Cameroonian” says Raju Jan Singh, World Bank Lead Economist for Central Africa and Coordinator of the Economic Updates.
Furthermore, uncertainty will likely continue to surround developments in advanced economies. “Despite this positive momentum, Cameroon remains vulnerable to the effects of global economic uncertainty. Some observers expect the recession to deepen in 2013 in the euro zone, which remains the most important trading partner for Cameroon.” said Gregor Binkert, World Bank Country Director for Cameroon. “One way of improving the country’s resilience is to make public spending more efficient and more results-oriented.”
The latter would include an examination of the various possible options to reduce the budgetary burden caused by subsidies, especially those for petroleum products. Subsidies on petroleum products (excluding kerosene) benefit mainly the richest 10 percent of the population living in urban areas and their elimination would only have a limited effect on prices.
Looking at the health sector more particularly, there has been little improvement in Cameroon’s indicators over the past two decades. The under-five child mortality rate has only been reduced slightly, while life expectancy has, in fact, declined. Substantial disparities exist in health outcomes between rural and urban areas, as well as across socio-economic groups.
“The burden of health care financing is largely born by households and the limited public resources allocated to health do not seem to be deployed where they are most needed” explained Raju Jan Singh.
Scaling up result-based financing (RBF) in health could improve health services and outcomes, and ensure greater coverage of health services on the national territory. The RBF approach turns the traditional logic around: instead of funding inputs (salaries or equipment), the approach starts with the result – more children immunized for example – and leave health workers and managers on the ground decide how best to achieve them. Currently piloted in Cameroon, the RBF approach shows encouraging results.
“ A comparison of health facilities between 2011 and 2013 shows that coverage of key services such as outpatient consultations, antenatal care, child immunization, and use of modern contraception all have increased significantly in RBF facilities compared with health facilities where no reform took place” added Gaston Sorgho, Human Development Sector Leader, World Bank.
Cameroon Economic Updates are designed to share information and encourage discussion with a view to improving the country’s economic management and unleashing its vast economic potential. This updates are bi-annual and analyze economic trends and constraints.