28, June 2016
The decision by the Minister for Public Health to systemize the screening of all patients who turn up for consultations in all public hospitals for their HIV status has raised quite some dust within the national healthcare community. Even if the Minister did not say it directly, it will virtually be compulsory to obtain the status of each patient reporting for any health problem. This move is revolutionary by the fact that all the secrecy about the handling and treatment of patients with HIV infections will henceforth be removed, making it easier to know who carries the virus and those who do not and in so doing better manage the situation because of a better knowledge of the situation and the availability of statistics.
One must sincerely observe that strategies to fight HIV/AIDS have not been very successful seen from the little impact various initiatives have had in the final result. The desire to keep patient’s condition private by preventing them from stigmatization has not helped matters at the end of the day. Policy makers cannot do effective planning because they do not have the necessary statistics on which to build a robust strategy. This is because for too long many citizens have been left to go about without even knowing their condition while carriers of the virus, unknown to them continue to spread it simply because they were not aware.
As long as the HIV/AIDS management chain was not opened up and continued to be run in near secrecy, results, especially the mass positive results expected, could never be attained That is why even with very efficient systems and information campaigns, the scourge has continued to develop in disturbing proportions. Moreover, an early discovery of one’s serology status will help manage the condition and obviously prevent the virus from developing into more disastrous condition of AIDS with its multifarious accompanying afflictions.
Early detection can also help minimize costs, especially for the dispossessed segments of the population from within which many cases of infection are registered. Many Human Rights groups will obviously jump into the scene to condemn violation of privacy. But the gravity of the situation posed by the growing spread of HIV/AIDS and, above all, the need to preserve the health of Cameroonians from the scourge of this killer disease justify the government decision. The population must, in its own interest, adhere to this salutary initiative which will certainly have an immediate impact on the management of the disease.