Anglophone regions: Covid-19 scare rises as Doctors abandon rural hospitals for fear of their lives

A doctor in Fundong in the North West region, Dr Fonkwa Roland has spent weeks in detention on accusations of working with separatist fighters and giving them medical care.

The doctor had attended a meeting in Bamenda and was returning home when security forces discovered an image of separatist fighters on his mobile device. Expressing his disappointment with the treatment given the doctor, a health worker says they in the interior parts of the Anglophone regions are left to the mercy of soldiers who have raised themselves to the status of ‘gods’.

Compared only to “gods”, the soldiers’ word, the health worker says is law, adding that locals are used as source of revenue. “For a month now” he says, “some of our hospitals are deserted since after the meeting held in Bamenda to see how to prevent Corona virus in our Regions.”

Dr Fonkwa he says “is the only government laboratory worker sent to the area. Other treatment can’t be done in his absence and the drugs (he bought when returning from Bamenda) have been taken by the ‘gods’, leading to a high death rate in the area.”

The doctor’s family too he says is not having it easy. “The family has paid 125,000FCFA just to see him and now they have asked for 2,000,000FCFA to release him or 6 months of prison.”

This has raised fear within other doctors in rural areas who fear they may be next, causing them to flee. Patients he says, are the most affected. “The few doctors are running away since they don’t want to lose money like the family above and so we are suffering with high death rate” he says.

With everyone scared of losing money and their lives, “we prefer to remain in peace without work than to risk our life since nobody has a say in the service we offer to Cameronians. Even the salary for the year is not reaching this amount and it is only to make the families in trouble. With this issue.”

All attempts to get authorities including the minister of public health to react have failed leading him to warn: “We need to use our eyes today to see or we will use them tomorrow to cry.”

Several concerns have also been raised by health professionals with many stating that the sector is ill equipped to handle the coronavirus pandemic in case of a greater outbreak in the country. Cameroon at the moment has over 800 positive cases but unlike most other countries has not instituted a total lockdown.

Talking to the press days back, the North West regional delegate for public health said the decision is up to top government officials alone.

MMI

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