The Bamenda Ecclesiastical Provincial Health Assistance (BEPHA) is a health assistance scheme set up by the Roman Catholic Church in four dioceses of the Bamenda Church Province; administratively found in the North West and South West Regions (previously called Provinces) of Cameroon. It was initiated in 2007 by the Bishops of the Bamenda Ecclesiastical Province, made up of 4 dioceses - Kumbo, Bamenda, Buea and Mamfe, all vary in size and have the names of the principle cities in the respective diocese. The Catholic Church in this province has been a significant player in the health sector in Cameroon, operating in total 45 health facilities (12 in Bamenda, 4 in Buea, 24 in Kumbo, and 5 in Mamfe).
BEPHA was launched as a pilot scheme in Mamfe on the 15th of October 2007, followed by the other three dioceses in 2008. The scheme is open to all and by May 2014, BEPHA had (in total) 34807 individuals in their schemes, with Kumbo covering the highest numbers amongst the schemes (12322 individuals). The schemes charge between 3500 to 5000 CFA per person per year as adherents’ contribution, and in return cover up to 75% of health costs of the enrolled at BEPHA partner health facilities. With some exceptions, the benefit is also capped with a maximum ceiling as well as by the maximum number of times a person can avail different services (OPD, delivery, hospitalization and surgery) in a year.
Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute is contracted to provide technical support to the BEPHA schemes in order to consolidate their restructuring efforts in the past years and be able to achieve their project goals set in their new project phase (2014-2017) with MISEREOR (donor). The support will focus on technical issues like performance monitoring, roll out of a new IT system, strengthening efforts to improve democracy and community involvement, improving management capacity, re-pricing of offered products, innovative methods to introduce performance based financing, community sensitization strategies, scheme portability and training related aspects.