Building Trust through Innovation in Healthcare Policy

How government and private sector partnerships are overcoming reproductive health challenges in Cameroon

By Elisabeth Harris and Megan Shea, Global Business Systems, PSI

Charles Pchankoukieu’s clinic is situated on the outskirts of the city of Yaoundé in Cameroon.  Its discreet exterior masks the constant flow of patients that keep Charles, one of the facility’s few providers, busy at all hours of the day.

With a severe shortage of medical professionals, the Cameroonian health system struggles to offer a high level of care. Like Charles, most health workers must provide services for several patients at once.

Cameroon has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. More than 7,000 women die due to pregnancy-related causes annually. Most of them live in rural parts of the country, where health services are weakest, This problem is only exacerbated by the rampant social stigma against family planning.

Charles’s clinic is one of 100 private healthcare facilities throughout the country that make up the ProFam network. Supported by PSI’s local affiliate Association Camerounaise pour le Marketing Social (ACMS), the ProFam social franchise network was established to improve the quality of care provided in the private sector, including access to family planning services.

However, the lack of a cohesive or reliable record system proved challenging. Charles shares that “many women from the community don’t feel comfortable sharing their information if it’s about family planning methods.”

Amid the worsening outlook for women and girls, the Cameroonian government initiated policies to make healthcare more community focused. Recently, the Ministry of Health adopted a new tool developed by PSI that is transforming the way health clinics are facilitating patient care. Known as Client-Based Record Management (CBRM), this tool is not only improving the quality of services, but also increasing access to reproductive health options for women in the community.

As a framework comprised of three components that work together to create a client-centered patient provider relationship, CBRM includes the Unique Identifier Codes, Client Record, and Smart Filing, giving providers the tools they need to access and update clients’ medical history for every visit they make to the clinic. To understand how CBRM works, watch this video:

Seidou Mfondoun, a research manager with ACMS, describes the process for ProFam’s network: “The data is saved on the client files, then copied onto the client register. At the end of the month, the record is sent to the quality assurance officers, who upload the data into DHIS2 and use the information generated by DHIS2 to make their reports.”

Read more about DHIS2 here.

Both Charles and Seidou speak about the great success CBRM has had at ProFam clinics, and the increased trust between providers and patients. Previously, patients didn’t feel comfortable sharing their family planning needs. In addition to training providers on the new CBRM system, ACMS also educated the wider community about family planning and reproductive health options. Now, more women have started visiting the clinic. “And it only takes five minutes to access a patient’s records when she shows up here,” said Charles.

The improvements brought on by CBRM weren’t only noticed by clients; it wasn’t long before the Ministry of Health began showing interest. After seeing the project in action and witnessing the benefits of a universal record management system, the government decided to adopt parts of the client records and adapt it on a national level.

Now, both public and private clinics all over the country can integrate the streamlined project and ultimately see more community members approaching them with questions about their reproductive health needs.

With more time and less stress, Charles and countless other providers in Cameroon can focus on what truly matters to them: caring for those in their community.