In the South West Region, 15 out of the 18 Health districts have been paralyzed due to continues attacks by secessionist groups leading to an increase in infant mortality and morbidity.
There has been disturbing surge in infant mortality and morbidity in the South West Region as the socio-political crisis in the North West and South West Regions persist. The South West Regional Delegate of Public Health, Dr Mbome Njie has expressed worries over the disturbing situation as the health sector is almost grounded in the region. The medic revealed that only three Health Districts are functioning relatively well out of the 18 health districts that make up the South West Region. This, he explained, is blamed on the persistent violence, insecurity that reigns in the region with kidnappings and attacks of health personnel and facilities by the armed secessionist gangs. “The devastating effect of the ongoing conflict on the health of our populations is having a huge toll on mortality and morbidity and should not be allowed to continue. The death toll caused by the direct effects of violence, and the indirect effects of health system disruption) is steeply rising each new day”, Dr. Mbome regretted.
“Because of the violence and insecurity increasing numbers of people are fleeing into the forests with limited access to clean water and sanitation, and exposure to environmental hazards. The children are likely going to suffer and die from malnutrition” he added. “The inability to carry out routine activities (Health system disruption) is directly causing a nose dive in key health indicators; (maternal and child health, HIV/AIDS care, improved service delivery etc.). Routine activities like vaccinations, disease surveillance, and the distribution of essential medicines have been seriously compromised,” the medic disclosed.
Painting a gloomy picture, Dr. Mbome Njie said activities like vaccinations, disease surveillance, and the distribution of essential medicines are only possible in three health districts (Buea, Limbe and Tiko) out of the 18 health districts in the South West region. “This implies that we are unable to vaccinate our children, we are unable to follow up pregnant women and safe deliveries especially among displaced populations, and we are unable to follow up patients on antiretroviral treatment and patients with other chronic health conditions like TB, Diabetes and hypertension,” he said. The situation is further compounded with the deliberate attacks on healthcare facilities and health workers, which to him will increase the health burden on the already worsening situation.
Meanwhile, speaking to the press Dr. Mbome said “it is a big challenge. We have had health workers kidnapped, drugs seized and it’s regrettable that the health sector is targeted during such crisis.” “We have held several of meetings trying to get across to those districts which are very difficult to access due to the violence. We are having enormous challenges to get to districts like Fontem. We are hopeful and working together with security forces to be able to get across all the healthcare services in the region,” he opined.
Conventionally, health facilities and healthcare providers are protected during violence. But the armed secessionist groups fighting for what they claim is the restoration of the Southern Cameroon statehood (Ambazonia) have repeatedly disregarded humanitarian law and have been targeting medical facilities and health workers. Recently, the Mbonge District Hospital in the South West Region was set ablaze by unknown armed men belonging to the separatist movement. Just like the health sector, the educational sector has also been hard hit as armed men attack schools, pupils and students as well as kidnap school authorities as they press on with their school boycott moves. Their actions have not only been condemned by the government of President Paul Biya but also by the international community and religious bodies.