Conflict and Health (Dec 2021)

Mobile clinics in conflict-affected communities of North West and South West regions of Cameroon: an alternative option for differentiated delivery service for internally displaced persons during COVID-19

  • Lundi-Anne Omam,
  • Elizabeth Jarman,
  • Wilfred Ekokobe,
  • Agbor Evon,
  • Esther Njomo Omam

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 15, no. 1
pp. 1 – 9


Read online

Abstract Introduction The guidelines for differentiated service delivery (DSD) for HIV treatment became operational in Cameroon in 2017 with the Test and Treat national strategy elaborating services that can be decentralized and task shifted at community level, but with little to no guidelines for DSD in fragile and conflict-affected settings. Since 2016, more than 680,000 Cameroonians have been internally displaced due to the conflict in the North West and South West regions (NWSW). This conflict has impacted on the health system with numerous attacks on health facilities and staff, reducing access to health care for internally displaced persons. The outbreak of COVID-19 further reduced humanitarian responses for fear of spreading COVID-19. Mobile clinics were utilized as a model of care in piloting DSD for HIV in conflict-affected settings within the COVID-19 context. Methods The HIV DSD framework was used to evaluate a project that used mobile clinics in 05 divisions across the NWSW to provide primary health care to internally displaced persons in hard-to-reach areas. These mobile clinics were operated in the COVID-19 context and integrated HIV services in the benefit package. The mobile clinics mainstreamed HIV and COVID-19 sensitization during community mobilization, HIV consultations, HIV testing and referrals, and in some cases antiretroviral (ARV) dispensation. The project ran from March to October 2020. The results from the evaluation of this model of HIV care delivery were analysed in 06 of 08 mobile clinics. Results In 07 months, a total of 14,623 persons living in conflict-affected settings were sensitized on HIV, 1979 received HIV testing from which 122 were positive and 33 placed on ARVs. 28 loss-to-follow up people living with HIV were relinked to treatment and 209 consultations for persons living with HIV were conducted. Despite the good collaboration at regional and field level, there was distrust by ARV centers for humanitarian organizations. Conclusion Mobile clinics are a model of care which could be leveraged in fragile and conflict-affected settings as an alternative model of care for HIV DSD to ensure continuum of HIV care and treatment. However this should be integrated within the benefit package of primary health care services offered by mobile clinics.