image002 (2)

African Governments Urged To Adopt Targeted Social Protection; Provide Short-term Social Assistance…

The Economic Report on Africa has recommended that African governments adopt targeted social protection; provide short-term social assistance to the most vulnerable people; ensure health protection for all.

The EAR 2021 launched on May 15 suggests that in the long term, “African countries need to build resilience by investing in health protection for all, which also offers high potential for employment creation; Build a national and regional health emergency preparedness and response system for future pandemics; Build domestic capacity for vaccine production through initiatives such as the Partnerships for African Vaccine Manufacturing; Leverage the African Continental Free Trade Area and other Africa-wide initiatives to create decent jobs and reduce poverty”.

Launched on the sidelines of the Economic Commission for Africa annual conference of Ministers of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, the report suggests that disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic pushed an estimated 55 million Africans into extreme poverty in 2020 and reversed more than two decades of progress in poverty reduction on the continent.

Titled: “Addressing Poverty and Vulnerability in Africa during the COVID-19 Pandemic”, the report shows that pandemic has caused job losses, reduced income and further limited the ability of households to manage risks. An estimated 12.6 per cent more people are likely to be pushed into poverty in one year alone more than the combined total of the additional poor since 1999

Furthermore, poor households move into and out of poverty because of exogenous shocks like the COVID-19 pandemic and that their inability to manage uninsured risks only increases their vulnerability. So, achieving sustained poverty reduction requires thoroughly understanding the nexus of poverty, risks and vulnerability.

“Under current projections, the pandemic is likely to increase the number of people living in extreme poverty, in Africa and globally,” says the report.

The report was produced by ECA’s Strategic Planning, Oversight and Results Division; the Gender, Poverty and Social Policy Division; and the Macroeconomic and Governance Division.

Hanan Morsy, ECA’s Deputy Executive Secretary said the report analyses the implication of COVID-19 in terms of poverty, but brings a new dimension stressing the vulnerability in Africa. It brings the element of people centric analysis of what has been happening during COVID-19 and what we need to do to ensure that the vulnerable population are protected in terms of social safety net and putting up the right policies.

“This report is particularly relevant given to what we have seen as the implications on the continent. The most critical implication of COVID-19 has been the reversal of the very hard-won gains that the continent had managed to achieve in reducing poverty,” said Ms Morsy.

While presenting the key findings of the report, Adrian Gauci, an Economic Affairs Officer at ECA said African countries responded to the poverty effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in part through expansionary fiscal and monetary policies to maintain consumption and aggregate demand and prevent firm closures and job losses.

“A major contribution of the report is the emphasis on the centrality of risk and vulnerability to shocks in the design of poverty reduction strategies in Africa,” said Mr Gauci.

“The report calls for an urgent need to explore innovative and affordable market-led insurance schemes which can insure the poor from future shocks. Collaboration of governments with the private sector is paramount.”

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the report says is an opportunity to build forward better Most African countries still depend on exports of raw materials and on imports of essential goods such as food items and pharmaceuticals.

“If AfCFTA is effectively implemented, intra-Africa trade is expected to be about 35 per cent higher than without the grouping by 2045,” says the report

“The AfCFTA would help Africa industrialize and diversify, reducing trade dependence on external partners and boosting the share of intra-Africa trade from roughly 15 per cent today to over 26 per cent.”

The key highlights of the report are on the economic trends, monetary policy performance, exchange rate, fiscal deficit and external debt and Africa’s trade trends.

Economic Trends

The COVID-19 pandemic has heavily disrupted the movement of people, goods, services and capital, and its impacts led Africa’s GDP to contract by an estimated 3.2 per cent in 2020. The pandemic is expected to weigh further on already slow economic growth.

Monetary policy performance

 In 2018 and 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, most African countries had accommodative monetary policy as inflation remained stable or declined

Exchange rate performance

In 2019, many African countries experienced exchange rate volatility as their currencies depreciated, mainly on trade-related uncertainties and capital outflows, as well as country-specific factors such as widening fiscal deficits, declining foreign exchange reserves and lower capital inflows.

Rising fiscal deficits and external debt

Africa’s fiscal deficit narrowed from 5.3 per cent of GDP in 2017 to 3.0 per cent in 2019, mainly because of government fiscal consolidation efforts.

Africa’s trade trends

The share of global exports decreased from 2010 to 2019 in Africa but increased in other global regions. The continent’s share fell from 2.48 per cent in 2019 to 2.14 per cent in 2020, though Asia and Europe were resilient, owing partly to continued supplies of consumer goods and medical goods during the COVID-19 pandemic


Cameroon Coach Antonio Conceicao

AFCON 2021: Great Ambiance In Lions’ Den-Coach Conceicao

By Etienne Mainimo

The coach of Cameroon football team, Antonio Conceição says, the positive ambiance in the group shows that the team is ready to face their opponent Comoros in the knock out stage of the ongoing TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations, AFCON going on in Cameroon.

During the pre-match press conference, Conceição said the objective of the game like all matches is to win and tomorrow, they are going to win.

“We have seen the strengths and weaknesses of our opponents. We want to have a competitive game tomorrow. It is true that Comoros is not have a big name but the team has done a lot. They have a good organization and they play well.”

“Our objective tomorrow is to win and the ambiance is positive. We have a gone ambiance within our team and working towards the same goal,” he added

He said, “…We have a strategy we are using in all games and we have to keep going. We will not relent our efforts. we have to start the match tomorrow seriously regardless of COVID.”

Ambroise Oyongo Bitolo who accompanied the coach said, “We have to respect our opponent but we have to win, win, win as the coach will always say. We always have pressure when we play in Cameroon, but it helps us to play well.”

Cameroon face Comoros in the round of 16 of the AFCON on January 24 at the Olembe Stadium in Yaounde.

Tunisia vs Gambia

AFCON 2021: Covid-19 Hits Tunisian Team

By Brian Mboh

The Tunisian team taking part in the 33rd edition of the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations is struggling with a Covid-19 scare.

Twelve players of the Carthage Eagles have been tested covid positive . According, 16 players had participated in their last training session held on Wednesday. In prelude to their decisive game against the Gambia side.

The news comes as a big blow for Wahbi khazri and mates barely few weeks after picking a controversial one nil edge against Mali.

The Carthage had kick-off the competition on a giant move, by blasting the Mourabitounes by four goals to nil in their first game for the 33rd edition of the TotalErnegies AFCON 2021.

As the competition gets another momentum, a good number of African giants have succeeded in picking a crossover ticket for the 8th finals.

These Nations include, Nigeria, Egypt, Senegal, Cameroon, Malawi and Burkina Faso. Meanwhile, Sudan, Ethiopia,Zimbabwe and Ghana have all been booted out of the tournament.

The battle for the 8th rounds seems to be tough this Thursday, as Ivory Coast clashes with Algeria and Sierra Leone faces Equatorial Guinea in group E at the Japoma bout. Meanwhile, group F will see Mali versus Mauritania at Japoma and Tunisia against Gambia in Limbe.


Burkina Faso Calls For Transparency In COVID-19 Testing

By Etienne Mainimo

Team officials of the Burkina Faso’s national football team have called on authorities of the Confederation of African Football, CAF to do everything possible to ensure transparency as far as COVID-19 testing is done. 

The Deputy Coach, Firmin Sanou and Team Captain, Bertrand Troare made the statement during a pre-match press conference as the team prepares towards confronting Cameroon in the opening game of the 2021 TotalEnergies Africa Cup of nations, AFCON on January 9 in Yaounde.

The statement came on the heels of alleged manipulation of results.  
Firmin Sanou said, “…The protocol for COVID test was not respected because we had our test at 11pm last night instead of 48 hours as it is supposed to be. It is unacceptable and we want to know why they were two health teams that came to our hotel.”

Taking the floor, Bertrand Troare said, “We can’t be told at the eve of our match that some of our players will not take part in the match. It is unacceptable and we were told that the of the two health team that came to our hotel, one was not from CAF. The authorities need to rethink and see into the organization of this. There must be transparency.”

“if a group want to come and do the test, it must be from CAF and must be transparent for everything to be clear,” he added.

Burkina Faso have filed an official complain to CAF. Meanwhile Cameroon Health Minister, Manaouda Malachie has reacted saying CAF is responsible for testing teams and officials.

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”


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"

Vaccination in Yaounde

Covid-19 Vaccine In Cameroon: Which, When, Where To Get The jab

By Leocadia Bongben

Cameroon is getting set to receive the Chinese vaccine, Sinopharm which would be the first after suspending the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine.  

By April 11, 2021 Cameroon would receive 200,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccine, the fruit of the Sino-Cameroon relations. 

According to the permanent secretary of the Enlarged Immunization Programme, PEV Dr. Tchokfe Shalom Ndoula, the distribution and storage plan is ready in the ten regions. 

“There are 522 centres in health districts in all the ten regions. For a start in Yaoundé, three sites would be specially opened for vaccination-the Conference centre, sports complex and the national museum. 

We are ready after three months to have made all the arrangements to receive the vaccine to be stored in PEV facilities, Ndoula explained.

Efficacy of the Chinese vaccine

WHO experts have say Sinopharm is good for Covid-19 symptoms and is 79 percent efficient. 

Vaccination is the best way to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus, experts agree. 

Other countries that have received the Chineses vaccine are Mauritania, Congo-Brazzaville, Egypt, Gabon, Guinea, Equatorial Guinea, Morocco, Mozambique, Niger, Senegal,  Seychelles and Zimbabwe. 

The Scientific Council and the National Immunisation Technical Advisory Group proposed three vaccines, the Oxford AstraZeneca, the Chinese Sinopharm and the Russian Sputnik V.

For now nothing has been said of how many doses of Sputnik V, only that Cameroon has an agreement with the Russian Direct Investment Fund that claims the vaccine is 91.6% effective. 

Government had to suspend the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine following suspicion of blood clots among other side effects. 

As of April 1, Cameroon confirmed a total of 57 337 cases, 4717 active cases, 51 769 recoveries and 851 deaths.  

Voluntary vaccination


According to the Minister of Public Health, Manaouda Malachie, the target is frontline workers-health personnel, persons above 50 years with co-morbidity. 
He insisted vaccination is targeted and voluntary in the phases of allegations that a bill is underway to make vaccination obligatory.

First published on bongben.wordpress blog on April 8

Peron with disability

How Early Covid-19 Responses Ignored Persons With Disabilities

What distance can a person with visual impairment keep as a measure of curbing the spread of  Covid -19 ? What does the washing of hands represent for people with mobility challenges?

These and many more,  were the questions absent from early responses to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The world was shocked from a slumber by the out break of the Coronavirus pandemic that spread across the world like a wild fire.

Experts say Covid-19 is an acute respiratory illness in humans caused by a coronavirus, capable of producing severe symptoms and in some cases death, especially in older people and those with underlying health conditions. It was originally identified in China in 2019 and became pandemic in 2020.

Different countries and governments tried various treatment protocols, but preventive measures are deemed as the likely measure to keep the virus at bay.

However, these measures according to Comfort Mussa, media person and Advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities, were ‘disability blind’-do not take into account persons with visual impairment.

“Maintaining social distance does not translate to everybody, how can this be communicated to people who cannot see, what does the distance looks like? What does hand washing mean for people with mobility challenges, for people who need caregivers?,  she quizzed. 

According to her, Covid-19 early national responses from government and civil societies left out persons with disabilities. 

“Covid-19 is still around and would not be over for any body until it is over for everybody. The voices of people with disabilities are still missing where policies are made. Unless you live with people with disabilities, you cannot think about their needs in planning”, Mussa said.

Comfort Muss was part of ‘People of Commonwealth critical conversations on ‘Equity and Justice in Covid-19 Responses’, skillfully moderated by Hilary Ghedemah- a Lawyer with 44 years of experience in academia , legal practice, advocacy, national and international policy.

Experts on the occasion identified the weaknesses in the responses, ranging from the non inclusion of persons with disabilities, to how the pandemic deepen existing poverty, especially through lockdowns and curfews.  

Some measures like lockdowns created even more problems for women such as increase domestic and gender violence with confinements.

Panelists from, Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone and other countries all agreed that women were experiencing the pandemic differently from men.

Women and persons with disabilities should be given a space at the decision making table for them to contribute to meaningful changes in the Covid-19 response, panelists concluded.

Vaccine jj

Administering Vaccines Acquired, Way To End Covid-19 threat On Health, Economy-Antonio Pedro

About half the vaccines Cameroon acquired in April are yet to be  administered, as of July 19, 2021, only 316,445 persons had a jab, according to statistics from the Enlarged Programme of Immunization, EPI.

Antonio Pedro, Economic Commission for Africa, ECA Director for Central Africa has urged Cameroonians to acquire and administer vaccines as a sure way to end the double threat covid-19 is imposing on health and the economy.

Pedro made the plea as Cameroon through the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health, Louis Njock received the first consignment of 158,400 doses of Johnson & Johnson.

ECA, AFRIMBANK and Africa CDC procured the vaccines for Cameroon and more are to follow as Cameroon intends to acquire up to 5million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

The procurement is the fruit of months of long negotiations. “For months we’ve been meeting with African Ministers of Finance, Economy, Health and other stakeholders to underscore the importance of facilitating access to vaccines to end global vaccine inequality,” said ECA’s Director for Central Africa.

At the Nsimalen Airport on August 8 when the vaccines arrived, ECA boss said, “This calls for celebration as we’ve reached a milestone in the acquisition of vaccines manufactured in Africa [South Africa] for Africans!”

“This symbolizes Cameroon’s resolve to move towards herd immunity”, Pedro said congratulating Cameroon on being at the fore of the initiative.

The latest acquisition has has brought the total of vaccine doses in Cameroon to 1,052,650 Sinopharm, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson.

The procurement follows donation of 303,050 doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccines by the United States.

Africa has the least access to vaccines in the world and vaccination is still pegged at 2 percent, 1.25 percent in Cameroon.

The continent has received slightly more than 103 million doses of vaccines but vaccinated only 24 million people, (1.7 percent ) and would need about 183 doses to vaccinate 10 percent of the population in September, 2021.

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa- Vaccine Champion announced the shipment of vaccines to Africa by August 5 through AVAT,AU / African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) in collaboration with the Africa Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP).

On the above premise, a total of 6.4m doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is being shipped across Africa this August. The figure is expected to have reached 50 million by the end of the 2021. By January 2022 supplies will be ramped up to surpass 25 million per month.

But, the vaccination up take remains low as misinformation and misconception are fueling hesitancy.

As of July 19, only 316,455 persons had taken a jab and even worse, only 48,999 had taken their second dose.

Being a single dose vaccine, Johnson & Johnson may be the answer to disappearance observed after the first dose for vaccine like AstraZeneca and Sinopharm.

According to Prof. Wilfred Mbacham those who do not take the second jab are not protected and are as exposed to the virus as those who have not had a jab.

Vaccination in Yaounde

Cameroon Covid-19 Vaccination: Key Facts

Only 48,999 out of a total of 316 445 vaccinated people in Cameroon have taken their second dose of Covid-19 vaccine.

Cameroon organized national Covid-19 vaccination days from July 7-11 to scale up vaccination following hesitancy observed.

According to the Enlarged Programme of Immunization as of July 10, 2021, while data from approximately 40% of Health Districts was still pending.

Partial data on the intensification of vaccination against Covid 19 showed 106,044 vaccinated, i.e. 9,763 for the first dose and 8,381 for the second.

Vaccination continued in the 10 regions of the country where Astra Zeneca and Sinopharm vaccines were administered in order to protect the population from COVID19.

Following the report from PEV on July 19, after the vaccination days still with data awaited, 316445 people have been vaccinated against Covid19 in Cameroon since April 2021, including 267446 for the first dose and 48999 for the second.

Key Facts:

-Only 48,999 persons have gone for the second dose

-Cameroon is now running short of vaccines, after receiving a total of 591, 200

-5,3 million does of Johnson & Johnson requested for not yet supplied

-Cameroon still at 2 percent vaccination

Taking only one dose is as good as not being vaccinated according to virologist, Prof. Wilfred Mbacham.