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Why invest in reproductive health in Cameroon?

Expanding access to quality, affordable reproductive health services for all Cameroonians is critical to make progress in reducing maternal deaths in Cameroon. However, significant challenges often impede such access in the country, the most important among them being a lack of recent evidence-based data on the benefits of investing in reproductive health. 

Building on the recent UNFPA–Guttmacher Institute global study Adding it up: cost and benefit of contraceptive services, the UNFPA Cameroon Country Office has joined forces with the Ministry of Economics, Planning and Regional Development, the National Statistics Institute (INS), the Central Census Bureau, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Family to produce a comprehensive study on the benefits of investing in reproductive health in Cameroon. 

The study provides an overview on the offer and demand of reproductive health services, juxtaposing the data from the 2005 Population and Housing Census with statistics and an analysis of Cameroon’s household poverty survey. It provides strong evidence on the vulnerability of the rural and urban poor, and women and youth due to a lack of access to adequate reproductive health services and rights, including adequate family planning services. The publication, entitled, Why invest in RH in Cameroon? was signed and launched during World Population Day by the three above-mentioned Ministers in the presence of seven other government ministers [1] .

This publication is a state-of-the-art advocacy tool making a strong case for the need to invest in reproductive health in order to guarantee Cameroon’s economic development. It is the only reference document of its kind targeting decision-makers at the national and decentralized levels. It argues that:

  • Investing in family planning in Cameroon will have a significant influence on poverty reduction 
  • Investing in basic reproductive health services will reduce maternal health by 69 per cent and unwanted pregnancies by 77 per cent in the coming years
  • Investing US$9 million in unmet reproductive health services will result in a net economic gain of US$12.5 million – a sum that could be redirected as investments in other social services. 

[1] Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Minister of Social Affairs, Minister of Communication, Minister of Employment and Professional Training, Minister of Urban Development, Minister of Basic Education and the Minister of Public Works.