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By declaring the centre a public utility, President Paul Biya has paved the way for it to be entitled to several privileges from the State.

President Paul Biya on November 4, 2015, signed a decree declaring the St Elizabeth Cardiac Centre of the Shisong Catholic Hospital in Bui Division of the North West Region a public utility. According to Dr Emmanuel Maina Djoulde, Head of Division for Cooperation in the Ministry of Public Health, the decree means the centre can now benefit from a number of privileges.

Declaring an entity a public utility is a legal provision in Cameroon. This applies to private structures that offer public services recognised for their great impact on the people, which the State acknowledges or recognises,” explained Dr Djoulde. This, he pointed out, is because the structure offers services that should normally be provided by the State. “This status confers certain privileges on the structure. This includes fast-track treatment of its files and exonerations in areas like imports, taxes and in general dealings with the State as a whole; which is not the case with other private structures,” stressed Dr Djoulde.

According to him, the centre can now formally receive State support – which it has already been enjoying on a case-by-case basis. “The new status also gives more credibility to the Shisong Cardiac Centre and facilitates its dealings with international partners. This is because public utility status is evidence of the State’s recognition and support of the centre’s activities. In addition, the centre can negotiate and receive State staff on secondment as well as negotiate other special deals. However, this is not automatic. Special deals have to be negotiated on a case by case basis,” the Head of Division for Cooperation pointed out.

The decree of the Head of State confers on the Shisong Cardiac Centre the status of a privileged partner of the State. Before now, the centre was already receiving State assistance in terms of subventions and exonerations on an ad hoc basis. Thus, this recognition has only come to make formal what was already going on. This is a very important decision for the owners of the centre. When it was inaugurated, the Head of State sent a representative. The State has in the past donated a vehicle to the centre as well as offered funds to help construct and equip it,” concluded Dr Emmanuel Maina Djoulde.

Managed by the Tertiary Sisters, construction of the St Elizabeth Shisong Cardiac Centre began in 2001 and took eight years to complete. President Paul Biya declared it a reference centre during its inauguration on November 19, 2009. Today, the centre offers Cardiac Surgery and ASD Closure, Diagnostic and Interventional Catheterisation, Coronary Angiography, Diagnostic Coronarography, Pace Maker double and single chamber.