Health & Wellness in Cameroon: Can Virtual Health Care Transform the Medical System Post Pandemic.


June 21st, 2021 -

  • While Faced by its Biggest Health Crisis, Doctor Visits in Cameroon Dropped During the COVID-19 Pandemic.
  • A Weak Healthcare System Led to Nervousness Over Doctors Visits.
  • Can Digital Help with a Social Distanced Health Care in Cameroon?


While Faced by the Biggest Health Crisis in Cameroon, Doctor Visits Dropped During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Since March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has been ravaging the world. While developed countries are beginning to reopen because of high vaccination rates, African countries have the lowest vaccination rate at 2% for the entire continent. Health care systems in African countries are still in the middle of this pandemic and suffering, with medical staff essential in this fight.

According to a Kasi insight on health and wellness tracker in Cameroon, the majority of Cameroonians surveyed had not seen their doctor in more than three months. The percentage increased from 59% in 2019 to 78% in 2020. Gender-wise, 60% of women surveyed had not seen their doctor in more than three months in 2019, which increased to 80% in 2020. For men, the percentage went from 59% in 2019 to 75% in 2020.

There were fewer visits to the doctor amongst women. For women, the percentage of those surveyed who had not to see a doctor in more than 6 months doubled from 10% in 2019 to 20% in 2020. For men, the percentage only went from 8% to 11%. For those who last went to a doctor between three and six months, the percentage of women increased from 51% in 2019 to 60% in 2020 and for men, it increased from 51% in 2019 to 66% in 2020.

Overall, the percent of Cameroonians that did not visit their doctor for more than three months went up, but it was women who were more commonly waiting longer to see the doctor.

A Weak Healthcare System Led to Nervousness Over Doctors Visits.

Cameroon has a population of 25 million and has recorded over 80,000 cases, the 12th highest on the continent of Africa. While infection rates have declined in Cameroon, in the early months of the pandemic, Cameroon was suffering from one of the highest infection rates on the continent. According to the United Nations Population Fund, “many women are reluctant to seek medical care at health facilities for fear they may be exposed to the coronavirus”. Even if people have chronic health conditions that required regular doctor visits, getting infected was seen as a much higher risk than not visiting a doctor.

Can Digital Help with Social Distanced Health Care in Cameroon?

While Cameroonians are experiencing the crisis of the pandemic, the health care system is experiencing a crisis in human resources. There are only 1 physician and 8 nurses and midwives per 10,000 people. There is also an inequitable geographic distribution of health care workers, rural areas having the least access. Furthermore, while Cameroon has a public health care system, there is increasing privatization of the sector and most health expenditure is out of pocket.

Not only have Cameroonians been nervous to visit the doctor over fears of getting the COVID-19 virus, but doctors’ visits are also not cheap. As the pandemic led to the loss of employment and loss of wages, fears over catching COVID at the doctors coupled with less income led to a decrease in doctors visits in Cameroon. For the health tech sector, this is a gold mine of potential.

In 2020, a new application called IDocta was launched in Cameroon that allowed people to book appointments virtually for home visits, as well as remote consultations. The home visits are priced at USD9, which is more than a public hospital and less than a private clinic. While doctors are regularly tested, it does not fully remove the risk of getting infected. If the health tech sector invested in creating fully virtual apps that only offer remote consultations, for cheaper than home visits, Cameroonians might be more inclined to take that route than the home visit route. Furthermore, the apps could reach more people if they were more automated to weed out the patients in need of more immediate attention. In the current day, many African countries are facing a problem of vaccine hesitancy. The health apps could also offer information to soothe fears over vaccines and build its customer base by reaching more people than just those who are looking for a doctor.


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