At the time this report is being read, tens, if not hundreds of people will be succumbing to cholera in parts of the Far-North Region of our dear country. A few weeks ago, this disgraceful epidemic was limited to the Mayo Tsanaga Division and circumscribed essentially to the Mokolo area. But in the past few days, there are reports that Maroua, the regional metropolis too, has recorded some cases.
This is a most disturbing situation indeed! It is a veritable embarrassment to those who are actively on the chess board, trying to see what the best strategies are to quickly get to 2035, the year the President of the Republic has set to ensure that Cameroon becomes an emerging economy, with what all that entails.
One can imagine the embarrassment of the Minister of Public Health, André Mama Fouda and all of his other collaborators. One can also imagine the stain on our national pride brought about by this cholera epidemic; for the simple reason that cholera, more than any other disease, is a basic indicator for the primitive condition of any health system. One therefore understands the rather positive or, even, activist posture the officials of the Ministry of Public Heath have taken in the face of the rather uncontrollable development of the scourge. They had no other alternative in the circumstances and one must recognise the rather proactive posture of the ministry in managing the situation as can be seen, not only from their presence on the field, but from other actions which even go beyond the sheer competence of the Ministry of Public Health. For, it must also be said that the problem is far from being a simple public health issue.
The issue transcends the competence of the Ministry of Public Health as, it has been observed that traditional habits and cultural practices are essentially to blame for the exacerbation of the situation on the field. The problem of personal hygiene can no longer be an exclusive heath issue. It has to do with convincing citizens that some habits which have stood the test of time, have to be abandoned. With the gravity of the present situation, there is absolutely no shame recalling citizens to observe the rules of basic hygiene which require, among others, that people ensure that a toilet is easily accessible and that hands are systematically washed after the use of a toilet.
Here, the very urgent intervention of other ministries, but, above all, local and religious authorities, is being sought to ensure an efficient solution to the problem which, it must be said, has taken dramatic proportions. It is difficult, in the Cameroon of 2010 which is striving at other major objectives, notably, in the economic sector and in poverty-alleviation, to be devoting so much attention to the question of cholera which should normally be taken-for-granted. School teachers, social workers, political parties, civic organisations, elite associations and traditional rulers should immediately take the cue from the authorities of the Ministry of Public Health and save the country of managing an unwarranted cholera epidemic. It is simply intolerable for a country set on the noble objective of becoming an emerging economy in the next 20 years to be grappling with cholera today.