COVID-19 — Cameroon’s Health and Economy

with more to come and, potentially, worse as things unfold over the course of the global pandemic. Cameroon has been doing very well compared to most countries and appears to be dealing functionally with its health impacts. Although, the country is not unscathed.

COVID-19, according to the World Health Organization: The current situation for Cameroonians regarding the pandemic is 21,160 confirmed cases, 420 confirmed deaths, out of a population of 23,439,000, which comes to 797 cases per 100,000 people. Cameroon’s first detected case occurred on January 2nd, 2020. All of these data points come circa October 9th, 2020. In terms of the number of confirmed cases in Cameroon, this number has been increasing since around the end of March and the beginning of April, while slowly stopping its progression.

Based on the world statistics from the World Health Organization, there have been 36,754,395 confirmed cases in all regions of the world of COVID-19 with 1,064,838 deaths as of October 9th, 2020, at 3:40 pm CEST. Cameroon’s new case loads have been declining, though several hundred Cameroonians have been confirmed dead from the novel coronavirus. All of these statistics from the World Health Organization point to the impacts on wellbeing and, ultimately, the loss of lives from the virus.

The financial impacts of the coronavirus are similarly steep. The core impacts in the economic sector appear in supply-side manufacturing and the services sector. With more than a third of the world’s population existing in lockdown, and with the largest global recession in the history of the world, the world’s economies have taken a blast with far-reaching consequences for the lives of citizens around the world and national industries; Cameroon included.

Global stock markets crashed in March of 2020. The changes appear due to the changes in purchasing behaviour of the public, temporary shortages of food, some spikes in prices, and then disruptions over the course of the pandemic. Even if we take the area of sports or large fashion and technology events, these have been cancelled or postponed as a result of the pandemic. Whether cinema, sport, television, video games, publishing, retail, restaurants, tourism, transportation, aviation, and the like, all have been impacted by the coronavirus and the decisions of governments to restrict movements of citizens to slow and stop the spread of COVID-19. In the midst of the pandemic, overall volume of trade in the first half of 2020 slumped by 16% in Cameroon. A pandemic of this type has not been seen since the Spanish Flu of 1918/19.

The levels of unemployment as a result of the stress and strain on national economies can entrench further disparities seen between men and women. Men and women around the world tend to feel different levels of strain in the home in terms of childcare and homecare. Thus, when the pandemic hits, and as it continues to impact the lives of the world’s men and women, women become caught in a Catch-22 of choosing between inflexible paid work outside of the home and extra unpaid work in the home. With this, women’s unemployment rates have been rising because of the issues of balancing that which cannot be balanced during a once in a century global pandemic.

Some of the positives are the ingenuity of the Cameroonian peoples in dealing with the pandemic through the creation of industries. One of these ways to curb the negative economic impacts of the pandemic is boosting local production supply chains by, and for, Cameroonians. Minister of Trade, Luc Magloire Mbarga Atangana, stated in August that Cameroonians must consume what they produce and produce what they consume in the midst of the pandemic.

Cameroon, and the world can take some note of these localized efforts, will need to invest in food and the manufacturing sectors within the country for the stimulation of consumption habits locally. The Government of Cameroon has noted the intention to support local companies as well as help with the supply of improved seeds and subsidize fertilizer for smallholder farmers.

Although, these Cameroonian economic solutions and supports from the government are important on a national level. One of the interest international phenomena have been the degrees to which communications technologies have exploded in value with one extreme case seen in Zoom. Eric Yuan, the CEO of Zoom, since March 2020 and September 2020 made about $12 billion. This is a dramatic case of making a turnaround with ingenuity and adaptability, and hard work, to turn a global tragedy into a win; an economic powerhouse is made. Yuan is now listed in the Forbe’s 400 richest people in the world.

Whether nationally or internationally, corporations and governments have recognized the essential need for innovation to show that which served one purpose can be served by another because of the need to physically distance, wear masks, and burden this storm unseen by the naked eye, only by microscope.

Photo by Edouard TAMBA on Unsplash

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