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Cameroon’s free fall health system: Two videos shock the world

April 27, 2010

Aloysius AGENDIA

 There are two despicable videos of our health system currently doing the rounds on the World Wide Web. The two videos from the Francophone and Anglophone parts of Cameroon reiterate the urgent need for us to salvage our chronically sick health system. They showcase the thousand  of cases of  flaunt unprofessional, and unethical nature of our medical practitioners on one hand, the total flouting of our basic right to good health and, the mismanagement of our of health sector by a chain of people in the Ministry of Public Health. These videos aptly describe the bitter reality in Cameroon- the free fall health system. Watching a medical doctor totally indifferent as a patient dies and another medical doctor cum administrator demonstrate the terribly wanting nature of our hospital is indeed, unnerving. The videos have shocked the world but are “non event” in Cameroon or for those who are versed with the situation in Cameroon because such cases are too common in a government that has “sold shame and bought disgrace”.

 In Sweden for example, life expectancy is 83 years for women and 79 for men and it is expected to move to 86 and 83 in less than a decade from now. On the contrary, life expectancy in Cameroon is 50 and 48 years for women and men respectively and may likely to drop further from now. Good medical care is a contributing factor to good health and long life. What explains the terrible discrepancy when the Swedish health system overwhelming relies on government provided health services?  I talked to Dr Alsa who says the response is simply; proper management and organisation of the health sector both by hospital management, health officials, law makers and politicians. Everybody in the health sector does just what is expected of him or her and the laws and ethics are there to regulate everything.

 Do not think it is because Sweden is far richer. No. Cameroon can as well put in place such structures if there is political will. However, impunity has degenerated to total chaos to the extent that the health officials, nurses, doctor, mid-wives, lab technicians supposedly working to save the lives of patients, think it is no longer their primary duty, other than musing ways to extort desperate patients. Unlike Cameroon, a relatively far poorer country like Sierra Leone has launched a free medical care system for all pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and all children from five years and below.

 The bitter truth

This first video shot at the so called Regional Hospital in Limbe portrays the horrible state of the theatre of that hospital.  The room basically has nothing that a theatre should have and even the director of the said hospital is right there in the video to confirm it. The only additional items are disease-prone rusted metals and dirty planks. The theatre is just a reflection of how the whole hospital looks like. On the contrary, we have heard several stories of misappropriation of funds by officials of the South west regional health department and even those of the said hospital. The recruitment of totally unqualified personnel and the total lack of discipline among hospital staff is another factor behind the free fall of our health services. This case in Limbe can be logically generalised because it is just a replica of the public health system in Cameroon and if one is to go by the number of the testimonies which have been flowing following since the videos were released.

The second video shot by a New York Times reporter seemingly in the francophone part of the country shows a “medical doctor” in the public service who scornfully allows a pregnant woman to die because the said patient could not afford FCFA 50.000 upfront payment before her treatment could begin. Even when the reporter together with others provide cash and blood for the operation, the doctor who can be very well seen in the video, had already vamoosed by the time the cash and other items were ready. He resurfaces the next days to carry out the operation when it was already too late. Watching the video can not stop any from crying or revolting in his own way against the failed system. This is a clear case of manslaughter but the case has to die because the helpless victim’s family seem ignorant of their rights and have no groups to stand for them. They equally do not have the means and money chase files in the Cameroon’s equally chronically sick judicial system, hence - Case closed.

Recently, it was the bizarre story of the dead of quintuplets in Buea in a glaring case of professional dishonesty and sheer incompetence on the part of the Southwest Regional health officials. The last of the quintuplets to die was allegedly turned away when he was taken to one of the health-political outfit in Yaoundé.

 The will is absent

If the Cameroon government had they will, first, it could at least construct and equip regional and divisional state of the arts hospitals that would take care of its denizens. The issue of payment before service in emergency cases and some desperate situations would have been reviewed. But the lack of legislation or total violation of available legislation with impunity has led to chaos and driving Cameroon to a jungle and banana republic.

Many people claim that health personnel are poorly paid hence they need for them to make fast cash on patients.  Though that may be may true, the real problem is the disgruntlement of health personnel when they see many who earn just like them in the other sectors like education, taxes, customs, transports, etc construct villas, own expensive cars, huge bank accounts. The former equally want to construct their own villas and this gives room for embezzlement, and unethical attitudes. If workers of the other sectors were just of the same scale like them, without extra cash from doubtful sources, they would not have much to worry. But again, even if health workers were poor, the availability of proper equipment and training for the right personnel would save the situation to an extent.

 How much money is being spent on useless mission allowances and benefits by managers in our health sector? On the contrary, how much money is being judiciously spent on the purchase of equipment and training of the right personnel to use the equipment?

Due to the unfortunate situation in the public heath service, many people have turned to private health centres. The paradox here is that opportunists have rushed to creating a thousand and one health centres some of which operate in peoples' living homes and makeshift squalor. Charlatans in the name of traditional practitioners and private “conventional” health care providers are proliferating everywhere and selling dreams that they cure everything when their health structures do not even meet basic sanitary conditions. They have even taken private radio stations where they sell these dreams to people. Yet, the government cannot intervene in good faith stop them.

However, it will be difficult for the government to successfully stop patients from going to charlatans if the government cannot itself provide better services to the population. The protest of health officials in Douala April 07 against the proliferation of pseudo health institutions is a very genuine one. However, inasmuch as the government cracks down on those institutions, they must double efforts to provide better services.

A thank you to those saving the chronically sick health sector.

Some may want to disagree with this but the truth remains, if not of the Catholic church  and its health services together with those of a few missionaries such the Presbyterian and Baptists etc, the health sector in Cameroon would have already collapsed like the political system in Somalia or as the Zimbabwean economy did some months ago. From the Mary Health of Africa Hospital Fontem, to Bingo Baptist Hospital, Shisong Hospital, Achu Tugi  in the Northwest region, the population of Cameroon would have perished. From the Notre Dame Hospital in Douala to Saint John of Malta in Njombe, and other health services operated in Cameroon by the missionaries, a terrible thing would have happened. Take away the health facilities of the Catholic Church in Douala which has 2 full fleshed hospitals and 12 health centres and the population of Douala will reduce by half in a year. Even the plethoric private clinics which I have visited have nothing to offer neither ethics, nor good health service. All they want is money. It is high time the government at least intervene in the health sector and established to some order. But again, how will our rulers know the conditions in our hospitals when they do not use them? How can we expect any difference in the provision of health care when most of the workers from nurses, lab technicians, doctors, mid-wives etc bought their entrance into these schools or were recruited on family or party ties and not on merit? The end result can only be mediocrity.

Go Back

It is unbelievable and totally devastating seeing this happening to a Cameroonian woman infront of other Cameroonians. Whoa!! Just take a look at these videos. I lack the words.
Generally, can we only blame the government? We all are to be blamed in one way or the other. Who is that Cameroonian who can hold up his hand to say he or she is free from this mess. We all have contributed in one way or the other by shying away from our responsibilities. None of us has been strong enough to raise a voice and even if you did, your very own brother or sister will sell you out. Therefore, we are all bound to pay that price one day in any kind of form. Cameroon OBOSO.

Satan has dawned on Cameroon.

This video spoiled my day. Although its hard to watch a person die, its even harder when you are a physician, understand what the patient has and know that just a few minutes of surgery may saved her life.Cameroon remains a country where the government doesn't care about the health of its citizens. However, this video doesn't only confirm the latter but also shows how some Physicians have become so ready to allow patients die even when they are able to help prevent death. Do you know that many countries including the USA center for disease control have listed Cameroon as one of those countries with very poor healthcare system?. The CDC advices travelers to Camerron to seek healthcare in neighboring countries during their stay in Cameroon. It's a pity

Agendia, this story is very disheartening and nerv-wracking, and as far as i am concerned, doctors in Cameroon are criminals that should be stopped before their killing spree goes off-hand. I still remember how my sweet mum suffered at the hands of a frivolous and vicious doctor who left a metallic tool in her abdomen many years ago. But Jah too merciful to me, and He cured her. Just the thought of that brings back some wild anger in me, and i want to kill all those lunatics called doctors in Cameroon.

I would even go as far as shutting down that slaughter house named CUSS, and transform it to a massive prison to hide all those criminals that are trained to think in terms of blatant extortion and satanism. If i had my way in Cameroon, i'll build tons of high-tech maximum security prisons to incarcerate all the wicked men that have legally extinguished life out of poor and innocent Cameroons with impunity.

Nevertheless, the tragedy that happened to this poor woman is not unique to Cameroon. Perhaps i ought to remind Agendia about the pregnant Gambian woman whose fate was pretty similar, and this shockingly took place at Karolinska which is supposed to be Sweden's most prestigious university teaching hospital.

The said woman whose name was Amina if my memory doesn't fail me, suffered for three tumultuos days with strangely no doctor to attend to her while at Karolinska. She finally gave birth, but later passed on. It was a huge racist story here just some three years ago, and i am surprised that you missed it. Or, maybe you're new in Sweden.

The pictures presented above may look so horrible but when one has to move to the villages you will realise that the whole picture in under estimated.Might be this is our own hell that we have began on earth.Otherwise how can one explain the fact that a government will build a health centre with just one nurse and no basic drugs and facilities?At times illerate drug epddlers are the ones who sell the drugs proscbribed at the health centre.In other caese because of no good laws and no follow up even when the basic drugs are available the nurses will prefer to buy their own drugs and sell them to the patients at times at exorbitant rates.The whole health picture is a mess.The truth is that in most communities today patients only go to the hospital or health centre when the traditional or herbal practioners or drug peddlers can not help the situation.The reason may range from poverty to inadequate facilities in governmnet health establishments.
The trainning of health personnels is another drama characterized by enthic affinity,political ties or patronage,bribery and all forms of unthodox means used in getting to these limited health trainning centres.The result is garbage in garbage out.Those who have the call to serve in these fields are often for the above reasons deprived from such a career oppotunity.The political system in this country is sick and thus has created a laiser faire mentality and this has not only affected the health sector but all other sectors ranging from the teaching field,judiciary with its law courts to police men;transport and administrations with its out dated SDOs AND DOs.Cameroon needs surgical experts not only in the health sector but in all the sectors.

Fellow Cameroonians, times are changing and for this reason i have decided to set up a brand new Medical insurance scheme for Cameroonians. This is the time for all of us to insure our mothers. fathers, wives, children and loved ones back home through 4Another. How does it work? Her is how. You buy a health insurance policy for your loved ones, and pay. The loved one gets all the medical treatment he or she needs for one year without you paying anything more. All the hospital bills are included, drugs at the Pharmacy are also included. Curious? visit just go to www.4another.com and discover the rest for yourself. Incase you need more information, which i know you will want to have, mail me at ako@4another.com

Ako Egbe,
Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Indeed, we are living in Cameroon in a context where corruption is the norm. Those who promote values like honesty, transparency and accountability in all services rendered to their fellow brothers are stigmatised. We tend to blame corruption at the higher level and yet fail to play our own role. Lets take this example whereby a corrupt health personnel would sit in a bar and criticise those state embezzlers but forgets that he need to first change at his own level before critisizing the high level financial criminals under state prosecution. Please lets show love for our dear country in all the actions we take and stop blaming only our leaders.

Well this may be surprising to you guys because it might be the first time you are coming across such a situation but i bet you they are things we live on a daily basis in this LUCIFERIAN HEAVEN. Our health system is nothing but passage point to the mortuary, i really do not know if the business that use to exist between the pharmacies and the medical doctors in urban town has now shifted to mortuary attendants and medical doctors or health practitioners, God Alone Knows but i suspect it most be that some of them are shareholders in mortuaries or some related businesses, if not what explains they wickedness?
The second explanation points to the fact that they have set very high standards of living for themselves and since their salaries cannot meet-up with it and since they sick to maintain the social recognition they have, just like policemen and other civil servants, they have resorted to the highest level of corruption and to threaten people to pay what they need, they have become murderers. Unfortunately, they governments pays them for achieving this satanic intention well. Where are we heading to?

This is really sad !!!!!!

yea the situation is very bad and nobody seems to realise this but i thank u for this article and also the missions for their efforts toward the health sector in Cameroon and i ll like to comment that bribery into the health profession should seriously be discouraged as people should learn to do what the love doing even with no pay and second if it is not discouraged the persons involved will try first to regain they money first but at the end of the day all they do will be centered on that



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