A critical health crisis
While armed violence and violations of human rights have made the headlines in the past years, the impact of this crisis on people’s basic medical needs has often been overlooked in the international media. However, according to the latest UN figures, the flare up of violence in the anglophone regions of Cameroon has pushed more than 700,000 people to flee their homes, while over 60,000 have fled to neighbouring Nigeria. Today, people’s living conditions are massively affected by the crisis and over 1.4 million people are considered in need of humanitarian support in North-West and South-West Cameroon.
“Access to healthcare services is of major concern in the North-West and South-West regions”, says Emmanuel Lampaert. “Because of insecurity, lockdowns, curfews and the targeting of health facilities, access to healthcare is extremely limited, with at least one in five facilities non-functioning. Displaced populations barely dare to move to health facilities, and the economic downturn has made it still harder to travel to hospital, or even to afford treatment. Unsurprisingly, mortality among vulnerable groups such as women and children has increased , and the suspension of our medical support made the situation even worse.”
While MSF teams have treated patients for rape, torture, burns and gunshots, the vast majority of patients have been those in need of medical assistance for childbirth, malaria or diarrhoea, especially displaced communities. Last year, MSF-supported community health workers conducted over to 150,000 consultations for communities in both regions.