The World Health Organisation is asking countries to emulate Cameroon’s handling of the pandemic.
The Regional Director of the World Health Organisation, WHO, for Europe, Dr. Hans Henri, referred to the system put in place to fight against the deadly virus, under aegis of President Paul Biya as effective. The health authority raised President Biya’s efficient management of COVID-19 to the status of an example worth emulating by countries struggling with the pandemic “At the time when the Westerners sent back the infected people to self-confine themselves in their apartments etc … In Africa in general and in Cameroon in particular, the State had opted to detect and isolate the patients…,” he pointed out the difference in approach. Cameroon’s offer for care in specialised centres, he added, was open to even asymptotic individuals, and it “… did not wait for self-healing as in Europe, but had opted for several types of treatment”. “It is incorrect to believe that the low rate of contamination or death from COVID-19 in this country is a miracle. The public and medical authorities have opted for a better protocol than in the West, let’s face it. Let’s just copy in all humility, ” Dr. Hand Henri advised. Unfortunately, doomsayers in Cameroon thought that President Biya was doing a bad job and threw scathing criticisms at him while citing, as good examples, countries that have gradually become overwhelmed by the number of deaths and infected cases. President Biya focused on the essential task and did not waste energy on media appearances. He came under heavy criticism for rarely appearing in public or over the media to speak on the pandemic, as other heads of state. Today, his choices not popular at the time have saved lives and vindicated him. Last March, when COVID19 flew into Cameroon, government announced a series of restriction measures to slow and contain the spread of the disease. Cameroon closed its land, air and sea borders. But, President Biya kept the economy open, to the chagrin of his fierce critics. Although passenger flights from abroad were suspended, cargo flights and vessels bringing [in] goods were allowed, though with strict supervision. However, Yaoundé permitted citizens blocked abroad across the world to return on board special flights. Government quarantined the returnees, and permitted family reunions when they were cleared of COVID-19. Among the measures read on state radio that March, Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute asked Cameroonians to go by the hygiene measures recommended by the World Health Organisation, such as regular handwashing with soap and social distancing. Although some ignored these measures. Federated effort Cameroon seems to have fought COVID-19 better than other countries because the fight was not left to government alone. A community sense grew around the pandemic, following President Biya’s plea for a united front against the pandemic in his May 19 address to the nation. “Most of you have understood that it is necessary to put aside political squabbles and adopt a common front in the face of the insidious danger posed by COVID-19. Some political leaders who do not belong to the ruling majority shared this view. I thank them for that.” He said, the health system, was mobilised and ready to combat the virus, even though his opponents said it will collapse. President Biya was confident that his government made the right moves against the pandemic. “Various measures have been taken to stem the spread of the disease as announced by the Prime Minister. It is necessary to scrupulously follow all the instructions that have been issued. This is crucial for the health of everyone,” he urged. Overtime, the government has progressively lifted some restrictions but the putting on of facemasks in public, avoiding crowded places and hand washing, for example, remain important to avoid a new surge of infections.