According to reports published by the Ministry of Public Health in Cameroon, malaria remains one of the main public health problem. “it represents 49% of hospitalizations and it is the first cause of death in children under five.” The same report shows the country over the past years has recorded remarkable improvements due to the involvement of local and international partners, “…as a result of the impact interventions implemented over the years, the country has witnessed a progressive decline in disease burden between 2011 and 2016 with a decrease in the prevalence passing from 33% to 24%(DHS 2018).“
Though figures indicate a slight increase in mortality in 2018, through the new National Malaria Control Strategic Plan in harmony with global strategy, the country is poised to kick out malaria in Cameroon between the years, 2019-2023 by 60%.
This reporter took and engagement to ensure zero malaria in Cameroon and on the quest to check if paper work and event declarations match with realities on ground, especially in the troubled North West and South West Regions of Cameroon, was baffled with disheartening revelations in the field.
We talked to medical personnel serving in some divisions of the North West and first thing we were told was, “many come with complicated cases and we end up losing some. Here, malaria kills more than guns” One medical Doctor serving in a private clinic said. When asked to really paint the picture on ground he said, “If I consult 20 patients, about 16 will be having malaria (either simple or complicated malaria). With respect to measures to fight it I don’t think there is any for now. Many either possess those old bed nets or none at all. Some are living in very deplorable conditions; the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who are victims of the sociopolitical upheavals in the two regions. Children are very much affected (often presented with complicated malaria)”
When we tried to know what they do to the most vulnerable groups said to be children less than five and pregnant women whom we know their treatment should be free, he said, “it is not applicable here to the best of my knowledge.” We learnt that treatment of a case of simple malaria costs 1500. “When it comes to treatment, there is the problem of finances. Many are unable to get the adequate doses of drugs for treatment because of lack of finances…”
The red lights in these reports on the field leave one with fears that the strategic plan to reduce mobility and mortality by 60% in the next four years may only end in books and words in Yaoundé given communication and level of intervention have slowed down. Communication on how to fight malaria in these communities was mostly effective with the use of proximity radio stations and has stopped. Some people now live in bushes in the heart of the rainy season and without bed nets, women are trapped; they live and deliver either at home or bushes without ever attending antenatal clinic. Talking about the hygiene and sanitation in many of the affected areas now is just as good as nothing.
However, while the mass distribution of Long Lasting Insecticide bed nets (LLINs) will soon be going on, it is hoped that special measures be taken on how to reach people in these affected areas; maybe by using NGOs, religious organizations and others that easily gain access to the people than still do the usual in such an unusual moment in the life of our country, Cameroon. Also, humanitarian aids destined for these communities could comprise nets for the peoples and assistance to the few still exiting health united in the communities.