Lions Covid 2

TotalEnergies AFCON 2021: Covid-19, Injury Lurking In Lions’Den

Barely nine days to the official start of the TotalEnergies African Nations Cup, AFCON 2021, four players have tested positive for Covid-19.

The Lions started their pre-tournament training camp on Monday December 27 but news from the den is not reassuring.

kunde Malong, Jean Konguep Efala, Michael Ngadeu Ngadjui, and Christian Bassogong have been quarantined after they were confirmed positive, the team doctor, William Ngatchou said.


Choupo Moting came off training with a knee pain, additional medical tests would ascertain how bad the injury is the medical staff stated.


Meanwhile, Stephen Bahoken, plying his trade for Bordeau and already out of the competition came to camp for the medical staff to confirm his injury.


This news is not reassuring for the team, determined to go as far as possible in the competition.


Training ahead of AFCON Cameroon2021

Cretdit Photos: Serge Guiffo -Media Officer

Vaccination in Yaounde

Cameroon Community Leaders Coax Population To Get Vaccinated

By Leocadia Bongben

Cameroon is targeting to get at least 13,944,491million of its population with Covid-19 jabs. But for now, only about 418,855 Cameroonians have been vaccinated. Even more, only 160,803 persons are fully vaccinated.

“A total of 3 percent of the target population has already received the first dose. And 1.2% of this same population is fully vaccinated. The proportion of health personnel vaccinated is 40.1% for the first dose and 18.1% for those fully vaccinated”, vaccination situation report of October 27.

Presently, 102,499 persons have had Covid-19 and 1686 deaths have been recorded as Cameroon grapples under the third wave of Covid-19.

In May, 2021, the World Health Assembly the world policy body set the target of 10 percent global vaccination by September, 30, 2021.

While 90 percent of high-income countries have hit the target, for Cameroon and other low-income countries, this target has not been met.

Low vaccination has been attributed to several factors, among them, the lack of information on side effects, fake news on side effects, religion, culture and government policies.

But according to the EPI, since the beginning of vaccination in April, there have been 501 minor side effects, 38 serious side effects out of the 472,156 vaccines administered. The most common side effects are headaches and pains on the injection spot.

According to Prof. Yap Boum, an Epidemiologist, “A study carried out in the ten regions of the country revealed that the people doubt the efficacy of vaccines, but vaccines are showing high efficacy for preventing deaths and hospitalization.”

Some reports have blamed low vaccination on the communication strategy which was neither validated nor implemented.

The gaps which initially drove low vaccination were the lack of involvement of the health personnel in the COVID-19 vaccination sensitization campaign.Besides, “sensitization campaign on COVID-19 vaccination is not adapted to the profiles of the hesitant population and their geographical location”, the United Nations Humanitarian Office, OCHA reported.


Another worry raised was about the two-dose vaccines not encouraging the population.

But, going by the Deputy Country Director of the Expanded Programme of Immunization, EPI, Andreas Njoh Ateke, over six months, many Cameroonians have been vaccinated with the two-dose AstraZeneca.

He added that other single-dose vaccines like the Johnson and Johnson are a plus making it easier for mobile teams to vaccinate the population with a single dose.

EPI Deputy Country Director, Andreas Njoh Ateke

Despite the low vaccination and gaps, there are regions in the country with high vaccination rates like the Far North, Center and East regions.

What has actually worked in these regions that other can emulate?

Community leaders luring the population to get vaccinated

It is 7:00am on a sunny Monday morning at the Djungolo neighbourhood in Yaounde, in the Centre region of Cameroon. Ekobo Isidore, president of Djungolo Health District Committee is applying the last stroke of the brush to polish his shoes and ready to move out for the day.

He is going to give a talk on the need for Covid-19 vaccination in an association that has accepted to him and his colleagues a listening ear. He also visits and talks to families, religious and traditional rulers among other groups in the community.

It is a door-to-door work that they do, and all the times, they talk with community members who in turn spread the message in their communities.

“We pass our prevention messages through religious leaders and local government officials who are trusted opinion leaders people listen more to them”, Ekobo stated.

Ekobo Isidore in discussion with community leaders on Covid-19 vaccination

“Traditional rulers call us from time to time to take vaccines to those they have convinced to get a jab”, Ekobo recounts how they have been able to convince traditional and religious leaders.

Ekobo says “We are mobilized to fight Covid-19. As a structure of dialogue and community participation, we are in charge of sensitizing the population, convincing them to take the Covid-19 vaccination and practice barrier measures”.

Community health agents, or social mobilisers, spend days convincing the population, to adhere to vaccination which is not easy with misinformation on social media, he added.

“We visit associations, during their meetings spend time, to discuss to know why they are against vaccination. We send messages to churches, and mosques. We also have advocacy and community engagement meetings where we invite traditional rulers, religious leaders, Divisional Officers, Influencers and mayors to discuss with them.We try to convince health workers who are reticent about vaccination”.

The head of state cannot bring something to kill all Cameroonians, who will he govern? We know government needs the population in good health, to work and pay taxes and if every-body is sick who will pay? That is why, government is putting enough means to prevent and ensure the health of the community, these are some issues we raise to convince them.

“I am vaccinated and I have not been transformed into a horse, and there is no 5g network in my body,”, i tell the population to convince them and stress that vaccine is free, efficient and enables us to prevent Covid-19, Ekobo stressed.

Ekobo Isidore, president of Djungolo Health District Committee president

Local leaders, working with over 2300 community mobilizers and 1450 vaccination teams, were crucial to the success of a rapid COVID-19 vaccination drive that saw 52 000 people vaccinated across Cameroon in just five days in July”, WHO states.

According to the EPI deputy boss, the role of the community leaders has been very important in getting the numbers.

“Regions where vaccination coverage is high like in the Far North, Centre and East regions, have actors who hold a lot in reinforcing community participation, and the use of local stakeholder to improve communication and adhesion. This has partly helped to get these regions to better performance than the other half of the country”, Ateke said.

“We think this is an effort which is being learnt by others regions and gradually all the regions are trying to improve.”, he added.

Region like the South and Southwest, bottom on the vaccination table have certainly have not leverage on the community leaders.

“For the Southwest region being the last on the table this is a major call for concern and effort out of campaign are explored. The frontline workers have been trying to vaccinate in groups of enterprises, but they are still at the bottom though in these last days they are vaccinating more persons. The insecurity in the region has really limited access to vaccination services”, Ateke said.

Community leaders have a lot of impact both in out of campaign and during vaccination campaigns to scale-up vaccination.

Ateke maintains that “Given that Covid-19 is a public health issue for which vaccination is one of the most effective ways to prevent this infectious disease, vaccination campaigns have proven to be a great way to get vaccine closer to the population and to rapidly improve vaccine uptake”.

“Campaigns can be an opportunity to rapidly improve vaccine uptake though they are relatively more costly than the routine vaccination intervention but they are more cost effective because they help to rapidly immunize a huge number of persons within a shorter period of time” the deputy EPI Boss said.

Cameroon had the first vaccination campaign on April 12, when the country received the first consignment of Covid-19 vaccines, Sinopharm from the Chinese government.

To kick-start the campaign, Health Minister Manaouda Malachie took the first jab (televised for all to see) but, at this stage, hesitancy seemed to be at the peak so may doubted public vaccination.

Health officials then launched the second vaccination campaign from 7-10 July to reach a larger number of people.  

During the Covid-19 vaccination campaigns in July, community leaders were major actors playing a determinate role in mobilizing the target population in their communities so they are really indispensable, Ateke thinks.

“We need to have the proper messengers, who are mostly the health workers, but also community leaders, for community engagement to move forward getting the vaccine and protecting population. If we have a large number of people who need hospitalization admission, it can be a challenge for the health system”, Yap stressed.

For the upcoming campaign from the November 17-21, every actor is key in improving vaccination so the health personnel- medical doctors, health workers are very vital and have been integrated in the communication group of actors, Ateke stated.

It is good to note that at the moment we have been able to vaccinated more than 30 percent of the health workers, they are being used to pass across messages to other health workers and to the population, he concluded.

This OUTBREAK story was supported by Code for Africa’s WanaData program as part of the Data4COVID19 Africa Challenge hosted by l’Agence française de développement (AFD), Expertise France, and The GovLab”

Bamoun King

Cameroon: Coping With The Third Wave Of Covid-19

By Leocadia Bongben

Thousands gathered; to hell with masks, there were hugs, hand shakes, no social distance; they were mourning.

It was the burial of the Sultan, Ibrahim Mbombo Njoya, the king of the Bomoun people of West region of Cameroon, and the enthronement of Nfonrifoum Mbombo Njoya Mouhamed Nabil, the 20th King.  

“It is an ideal avenue for the spread of covid-19 especially with the third wave and the Delta variant, which experts say spreads as fast as it kills”, Prof. Yap Boum II , Epidemiologist, lamented.

Cameroon is still experiencing its third wave of Covid-19.

Some African countries experienced the third wave of covid-19 earlier than others, amongst them, South Africa with the Delta variant.

South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya and Ethiopia account for over 60% of the continent’s caseload, the African Centre For Disease Control Director, John Nkengasong stated.

The World Health Organization, WHO, said the third wave, “could be 60% more contagious. Greater contagiousness means more cases, more hospitalizations, and a greater risk of overwhelming health systems. Some evidence also suggests that the Delta variant which is responsible for the third wave, is linked to more severe and longer-lasting cases”.

In Cameroon Health Minister Manaouda Malachie maintained that the country did not register any case for about three months before the surge in the new cases with the Delta variant at the origin.

“Malachie on national television maintained that genomic surveillance put in place detected out of 745 samples of positive cases analyzed, 43 were the English variant cases, 17 South African variant cases and 14 Indian Delta variant cases circulating in Cameroon.

“In October 2020, there were three variants in Cameroon, then in December eight, and there was a particular variant found in travelers that came from Central Africa. We learnt that the second wave of Covid-19 was caused by the South African strand, Prof. Wilfred Mbacham, Virologist said.

A report from the Cameroon Health Emergency Operations Centre indicate that the country recorded its first two confirmed cases of COVID-19 on 06 March 2020, the situation evolved rapidly and the first wave occurred around the period from 18 May to 05 July 2020, and the second wave appeared during the period from 22 February to 16 May 2021. Then the country observed a period of calm from June 2021.

“Since August 9, 2021 we have observed a rise in the number of cases. It is important to note the heterogeneity in the progression of cases with the central and coastal regions leading the way as expected. On the other hand, in this wave, regions such as the North West and the West have a much higher number of cases than in the last waves. A striking fact of this 3rd wave is the increase in the proportion of deaths, which has led us to intensify the death audits”, Belinga said.

According to Prof. Yap Boum, Epidemiologist, “This third wave, seems to be the worse, with the Delta variant.

Presently, 90 percent of the cases in the country are caused by the Delta variant that is highly transmissible, which means it may touch a large proportion of people who are vulnerable”.

Prof. Yap Boum II, Epidemiologist, Doctors Without Borders

To him, there is a difference between the first, second and third waves of Covid-19 in Cameroon.

“During the first wave, we didn’t know what was happening, we had very strict measures; the second wave was a bit more relaxed compared to the first with much more cases and deaths, with the peak around March and April”.

“In this third wave, we have even young people dying of Covid-19, kids of three months, three years and young adults. This was rare in the first and second waves, so there is need to readjust the measures we are taking”, Boum said.

The fact is that when you have ten persons hospitalized, nine out of the ten have not been vaccinated. 90 percent of the people dying are those who are not vaccinated, Yap stressed.

He warned that having taken a jab and still being hospitalized can happen for many reasons: such cases may have other conditions. We now know that people with HIV are immune depressed and responding less. So, the need for vaccine boasters.

The challenge with the third wave of Covid-19, is how to get the population to respect barrier measures, wear masks, wash hands regularly, and get vaccinated.

So far, Cameroon has confirmed 98,402 cases since the first case was declared in 2020 till date. The cases, and deaths correspond to the three waves of Covid-19.

Only 142,778(1.0%) Cameroonians are fully vaccinated and 397,607 have taken the first dose as of October 11.

Experts agree that were Cameroon to have more hospitalizations, the hospitals would be overwhelmed with the low level of vaccination.

Mbacham, maintains that “those who have taken just a shot of a two doses of the vaccines are as vulnerable as those who have not had a jab”.

What preventive measures for third wave?

Cameroon Health Emergency Operation Centre, is in charge of monitoring and taking record of the covid situation in the country on a daily basis.

Cameroon Emergency Operations Centre

Dr Belinga of the Emergency Health Emergency Operations Centre maintained that “At land, sea and air entry points, passengers are systematically screened and tested whether or not they have a negative test less than 72 hours old, as required by the regulations in force in Cameroon.

In the community, contacts of confirmed cases of COVID-19 are identified and followed up over a period of 14 days to look for the early appearance of signs of the disease.

Finally, there is surveillance in health facilities through triage systems set up at the entrance to the health facilities, active research in consultation registers and systematic screening of suspected cases, Belinga added.

Surveillance is part of a strategy based on awareness-raising and case detection. Vaccination is offered to people who test negative, while positive cases are managed.

In the run-up to the TotalEnergies 2021 African Cup of Nations football tournament, surveillance will be stepped up, particularly with “new Covid-19 exposure notification tools that will enable people who have been in contact with a positive case to receive notification leading to screening and then vaccination or treatment depending on the result”,Belinga revealed.

The third vaccination campaign is set from November 17-21 postponed from October 27-30 would cost the state a whooping FCFA 928 million to scale up vaccination.

Meanwhile, Cameroon can count on the support of its partners in coping with the third wave. Cameroon’s partners, the EU and Germany donated equipment for the management and protection of severe cases. 

Germany donated 924,000 surgical masks worth more than 165 million and the EU, 50 oxygen concentrators, 50,000 surgical masks, 03 ventilators with accessories, 3,040 protective glasses and 3,120 visors.

The EU has in the past, constructed waste treatment areas in 18 health facilities in five regions, in addition to the commissioning of a borehole.

Saudi Arabia donated, 25,000 sterilized blouses, 125,000non sterilized, 2.302000 surgical masks to help government to meet up with increasing cases of Covid=19 from the delta variant.

Cameroon has got her very first sequencing device for monitoring the circulation of Covid-19 variants through CEMAC. The African Development Bank, ADB, financed to the tune of FCFA 468,501,777 a subregional response plan that provided biomedical equipment, protection kits, medical ambulance, the ministry of health disclosed.

A group of Cameroonian pathogen-genomics are following up the evolution  of the virus, to understand the virulence in collaboration with Redeemers University in Nigeria, Mbacham disclosed. 

Prof. Mbacham Wilfred, Virologist

Africa and Cameroon have not had the massive deaths predicted and according to Mbacham, “It could be that our foods are contributing besides the washing of hands, social distancing”.

In the past, viral infections have gone through four waves before they completely get out of the community. With many passages of the virus through many people and mutating, it will slowly tend towards a less virulent strand like the common colds, Mbacham concluded.

This OUTBREAK story was supported by Code for Africa’s WanaData program as part of the Data4COVID19 Africa Challenge hosted by l’Agence française de développement (AFD), Expertise France, and The GovLab”

WhatsApp-Image-2021-10-05-at-11.04.50-PM

How Local Remedies Fuel Covid-19 Vaccine Hesitancy In Cameroon

By Leocadia Bongben

Not without our herbs’, has been the protective shield some Cameroonians and Africans wear to stay off vaccines.

Flash back to May 2020, two months after Cameroon declared its first case of Covid-19 on March 6, Achille Kohler Chountsa Fongang, Journalist in his 50s, lost appetite and sense of taste.

The result of a scan test by Dr. Euloge Yiagnigni Mfopou showed Chountsa tested positive of Covid-19.

“A table was placed in front of the door to my room, food kept there.  For the first time in my life, I was deprived of my liberty”, he narrated his Covid-19 experience.

“I was given CoroCur, after three days, the symptoms disappeared and I had appetite anew but had to remain quarantined for ten days”, he added.  

Chountsa was one of the early Covid-19 patients on whom the researcher tested his herbal remedy CoroCur, taken with anti-biotics.

“When I got well, I shared my story on Facebook, my phone rang continuously, I oriented many to the doctor and they came back thanking me”.

“I have not taken a jab and have no intention of taking. I think it is good to have confidence in our researchers, and if we are sick the remedy is available”, Chountsa said.

Achille Kohler Chountsa Fongang

Personally, the vaccine doesn’t convince me. It took 10-15 years of research to produce most vaccines, so I am surprised how the Covid-19 vaccines were gotten so fast, he voiced his doubts.

“We have seen many who took the required doses of vaccines, and died again of Covid-19 because they didn’t understand that the symptoms they get are real until they got worse”, he added.

Chountsa is not alone in trusting local remedies.

Francis Nguefack, 48, father of four, sitting on a bench, watching Basketball, confidently says, “I will prefer to take Archbishop Samuel Kleda’s remedy, (Adask Covid and Elixir Covid), if I am tested positive of Covid-19”.

“I cannot go for vaccination and this is final”, the public official, Nguefack adds.

The rush for herbal cure

In April 2020, Archbishop Samuel Kleda, of the Douala Metropolitan Diocese announced he had found a herbal remedy for the treatment of Covid-19. The Bishop is known for treating patients with herbal remedies for over 30 years.

Kleda’s announcement came at the same time Madagascar and their President, Andry Rajoelina was publicly distributing their unproven local remedy for the treatment of Coronavirus.

Other African countries have been falling back on their local pharmacopeia.

The World Health Organization, WHO warned that the remedies had to go through screening, cautioned over misinformation around the remedies that could give people a false sense of security.

However, WHO “Welcomed innovations around the world including repurposing drugs, traditional medicines and developing new therapies in the search for potential treatments for COVID-19”.

The African Centre for Disease Prevention on its part cautioned on the need for efficiency and efficacy.

“It is important to evaluate both the safety and efficacy of these indigenous botanical assets in medicine prior to endorsing their use by the medical community and the public”, CDC stated.

President Biya’s in a message urged officials to look for a local solutions to Covid-19 treatment, then, the health ministry involved traditional doctors, testing their claims.

Authorities approved seven herbal remedies

Cameroon Ministry of Health, Manoauda Malachie on July 8 in a release said after due process, the medical council authorized five remedies as adjutants.

These are CoroCur, Adask Covid, Elixir Covid, Palubek’s and Soudicov, a kit of : Ngul Be Tara, Netko, Binther et Immunoboost and a kit of Pack Viro Green Force 4.

Ngul Be Tara, one of the seven authorized remedies

“The remedies were to be used in association with the standard protocol for the treatment of Covid-19”, Dr. Salihou Sadou, director of pharmacy at the ministry of health stated.

Sadou says the remedies fall in category 2, and are not the conventional medicine.

There are different categories of remedies, and category 2 are products that have undergone phytochemical test, to identify the different herbs used and toxicology to ensure that the plant is not toxic.

Sadou explains the remedies fall under what is called long usage, in a community, to show the efficacy.

In a conventional drug efficacy is proven by clinical effects where mechanism of action is seen, how the product reacts in a particular domain, how it is transformed and extracted.

To arrive at the third category, there is need for clinical trials. “We encouraged the herbalist to adhere to clinical trials, to get to the third category of a conventional drugs. There is a disposition for the clinical trial at the ministry of health ethical committee.

Director of Pharmacy at the Ministry Of Health, Dr, Salihou Sadou

“The remedies cannot replace vaccination, and nothing guarantees protection against Covid-19 like the vaccines, the remedies are used when the person is already tested positive” he stressed.

What we are telling the population is to get the jab, he emphasized.

Statistics of people these promoters claim to have treat of Covid-19 cannot be very viable, because to follow-up a patient is complicated. The patient goes from from one product to the other and my be treated by one in many, Sadou argued.

We also know that there is need to encourage traditional medicine, many people go for traditional remedies and have much confidence in them but they cannot replace vaccines, he attested.

One of the approved drugs is CoroCur which the owner Dr. Euloge Yiagnigni Mfopou , Cardiologist, says is a native treatment made from local herbs.

“Corocur has been identified as anti-viral immuno-modulator and anti -oxidants. These properties help to kill the virus”, Mfopou says.

“Going by him, “It is the first time a medical doctor conducts research whose results are accepted by the community”.

He explains that the authorisation as ‘adjuvant treatment’ means the remedy has to be associated with the conventional treatment- composed of anti-biotics, Zinc, Vitamin C and Epherallgan to lower the fever.

To him, the conventional treatment is not anti-viral but it helps the body to block other pathogenic agents which can emerge when immunity decreases.

“When a person is tested positive of Covid-19, there is decreased immunity and this state can lead to increased multiplication of other bacteria”, Mfopou explains.

He claims that 3000 people were cured with CoroCur from the research stage which took about a year to the approval stage.

Presently 4000 bottles of CoroCur have been produced, and are in pharmacies and clinics for the next three years according to health authority’ s prescription.

Cameroonians are also taking other remedies and go for fever grass, ginger and other herbs just to help their system.

As to how the local remedies are fuelling hesitancy, Dr Euloge said:

“Many people come asking to take CoroCur saying they prefer it to vaccines, but as a medical doctor, I tell them prevention is better than cure. They should take the vaccine first”, he emphasizes.

He adds, “CoroCur is for those who are sick or have come in contact with sick people”.

The doctor advises, “If you have been in contact with a positive person, before you go for test, start taking CoroCur and it wash out the virus”.

To him, the impact of the information from European countries following the effects of the vaccines was one of the numerous reasons for vaccine hesitancy at the beginning.

Other reasons for vaccination hesitancy

Vaccination hesitancy generally has been a huge issue in Africa. Many countries in Africa do not have sufficient vaccines as suggested in a World Bank article on what is driving hesitancy in sub-Saharan Africa”.

“The slow vaccine rollout on the continent is  due to supply constraints, structural issues, and logistical barriers”, Prata Menezes et al suggest.

But hesitancy in Cameroon goes beyond lack of vaccines. Cameroon got a total of 1,052,650 doses of vaccines. As of October 5, 388,511 persons had taken a dose of the vaccines with only 133,531 completely vaccinated according to Expanded Immunization Programme, EPI.

Hesitancy is depicted with the 4880 doses of AstraZenca that got expired in Cameroon.

“4880 doses of Astra Zeneca vaccine that expired on 23 August 2021 have been withdrawn from the Covid-19 vaccine stock. This gives a loss rate of 1.2% for expired closed vials”, EPI  revealed in a release.

Besides herbal remedies fueling hesitancy, other reasons have been advanced for their contribution to hesitancy.

In Cameroon the fact that there is little or no information on the side effects of the Covid-19 vaccines seems to be a huge driver of hesitancy. Fake news, religion, culture and geographical barriers are other reasons for not taking a jab.

“This OUTBREAK story was supported by Code for Africa’s WanaData program as part of the Data4COVID19 Africa Challenge hosted by l’Agence française de développement (AFD), Expertise France, and The GovLab”

Vaccination in Yaounde

How Poor Access, Storage; Slow Covid-19 Vaccination In Cameroon Crisis Regions

By Leocadia Bongben

The two Anglophone regions are among the bottom four regions where the COVID-19 vaccination rate is still very low.

Mary Wirdin, 35, mother of two, and primary school teacher, set out to take a jab of the COVID-19 vaccine, but after trekking for 10k from Wahsi to the Jakiri Health Centre, she could not get the vaccine. 

It is Friday, August 13, Bamenda Northwest Cameroon, and roads leading into the regional capital are blocked.

“I wanted the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but could not get it, I was told due to roadblocks, vaccines have not been sent to the district hospital, so, I have to wait”, Wirdin, said. 

It is not the first time roads have been blocked, but a constant phenomenon since 2017 when the Northwest and Southwest regions turned into an armed conflict till date. 

With the roadblocks around major towns, Bafut, Bali, Kom, Wum, Banso, and Ndop, general access to healthcare is problematic.

Patients have pushed trucks to the Bingo Baptist Hospital. access to the Banso Baptist and Shisong hospitals, some of the reputable hospitals is blocked.

There has not been a movement of vehicles, hence, not much activity concerning COVID-19 vaccination.

Dr. Cornelius Chebo, Chief of the Northwest regional Covid-19 Incident Command Centre says with the roadblocks there is nothing much they can do but wait till when the roads are opened. 

Cameroon has received more than 1,204,300 vaccines, 200,000 doses of Sinopharm, 300,091 doses of AstraZeneca, 303,050 doses of Johnson &Johnson, and 158,400 doses from ECA -Afriximbank. 

According to Dr. Chebo, the format or line of vaccines in the country is the same for COVID-19 since their integration into the Expanded Programme of Immunization, EPI. 

“Vaccines are delivered in the central pool and taken from Bafoussam in the West region by the Covid-19 incident command center in Bamenda”. 

COVID-19 vaccine cold room at the Northwest Regional Delegation of Health

After collection, the vaccines are registered and distributed according to requests from the districts. 

The chiefs of district health centers then collect for their units and down to the population. 

The challenges

In the region, it is very challenging to transport and stock vaccines, because the distance has increased drastically for some districts due to the crisis. 

For example, officials from Donga Mantung Division used to pass through Kumbo but the road is no longer accessible. They have to go through Magbwa in the Adamawa before they get to Ndu, Nwa, and Ako, Chebo explained. 

In other areas, the Ndop, Fundong, Bali, and Kumbo roads are blocked and vaccines cannot go as armed groups imposed recent roadblocks.

“There is a need to wait until the roads are opened for the vaccines to reach the areas and this slows the vaccination process”, Chebo says.

According to Chebo, the transport fare that used to be FCFA 2500 is now 10,000 from Kumbo to Nkambe. A Nkambe man who used to pay FCFA 5,000 now pays FCFA 25,000. 

Ako-Nkambe used to be FCFA 4000 and today the distance is paid at FCFA 10,000, he laments. 

The district hospitals have been paying more to transport the vaccines. It has been tough but the goodwill of the managers at the district level has been overwhelming- they incur charges but they still take the vaccines, Chebo stated. 

Dr Cornelius Chebo, Head of Northwest Regional Covid-19 Incident Command Unit

80 vaccines destroyed

To scale up vaccination, following hesitancy, Cameroon organized the national vaccination days from 7-14 July. 

During the campaign, some vaccines were seized and destroyed in Kumbo East, Batibo, and Bafut. According to Chebo, “80 vaccines were intercepted and destroyed”.

But, this has not only happened to COVID-19 vaccines but with other vaccines within the context of the ongoing crisis, he added.

Electricity pools destroyed 

In some parts of the Northwest region, armed groups destroyed the electricity grid lines and even in Bamenda there has been constant outage with the central cold room, not an exception, Chebo said. 

“We used to stay here more than 10 hours without electricity, and it was difficult to respect the 8 degrees Celsius to store vaccines.

“Once the cold room reaches 10 degrees Celsius, it signals. When the outage has lasted for more than ten hours, it is not a good sign when keeping vaccines”, he stressed.

The challenge was more in April 2021, with more than eight signals a month, which meant we were out of electricity for more than ten hours, he adds. 

Standby generator to serve when there is no electricity

To salvage the situation, health authorities brought in a generator and have been supplying fuel. 

“But the challenge still lingers in some districts, and they had to resort to using fuel-powered generators too,” Chebo explained.

“Nkambe has not seen electricity for more than a year; Wum has also had no electricity for about two years and now runs their cold chains on solar or fuel.

However, the good thing is that the districts are looking for ways to overcome the challenges. “Most health facilities in Fundong, Ndop, and Nkambe are using solar energy to maintain their cold chains, a recommendable effort, Chebo said.

Regrettably, Batibo has solar fridges, but the panels were vandalized within the context of the ongoing crisis.

“If the facilities are not in a secure zone, there is a risk of them being vandalized,” Chebo maintained.

Despite the challenges in the Northwest region as of June 8, 2021, statistics from EPI were in the fourth position in the overall vaccination table. Presently, the Northwest has vaccinated more than 12664 people.

Data from the Northwest COVID-19 Incident Command Center shows that some of the areas where vaccines were destroyed have low vaccination rates, except Kumbo East.

The bigger challenge, however, is that many people in the Southwest region are reticent about taking a jab and prefer to take their local herbs.

The situation is not different in the Southwest region where access and storage remain a major hindrance to vaccination, especially in remote areas.

“I don’t think I will take the vaccine if I am not forced, I rather go for local herbs”, Njie Lyonga John-Paul, a resident of Bokova, in Buea in the Southwest region, stated.

Cameroon vaccinated 400,000 persons on August 14, according to a tweet from the Minister of Health, Dr. Manaouda Malachie.

However the latest information from the Expanded Programme of Immunization (EPI, shows the total number of persons vaccinated by region.

The crisis hit Northwest and Southwest regions are among the bottom four least vaccinated of the Cameroon ten regions. The ongoing conflict may in part, have contributed to the slow vaccination. However, the South region is the region with the least vaccinated population.

"This OUTBREAK story was supported by Code for Africa’s WanaData program as part of the Data4COVID19 Africa Challenge hosted by l'Agence française de développement (AFD), Expertise France, and The GovLab"