The lives of children in Cameroon should be better than in many other African countries. A relatively stable state, albeit ruled tightly by President Paul Biya, Cameroon has a decent agricultural economy buoyed by oil reserves. Yet despite these favourable factors, over 40% of children in Cameroon live below the poverty line (higher in rural areas) and child mortality rates for the under fives are on the increase. Malnutrition is rife in Cameroon and is responsible for 38% of all deaths among children under the age of five with one out of every three children stunted. The causes are common across the region; failure of harvests in addition to existing chronic poverty, poor weaning and infant feeding practices and lack of access to basic services such as health care and water with only 42% of the population having access to safe water in rural areas. The issue is compounded by the government's apparent refusal to acknowledge the extent of the problem with under half of the health districts in the north regions having the necessary staff and equipment to address the issue.
Additionally many mothers are often reluctant to admit or even understand that their children are suffering from malnutrition, delaying access to the help that's required. Medical staff report that children often come "to hospital in an advanced state of malnutrition and with medical complications ... In such cases, it is almost impossible to save them." Little wonder that literally tens of thousands of children in Cameroon die from the effects malnutrition every year. The issue of malnutrition in children in Cameroon is now exacerbated by food shortages with approximately 2.6 million people in the country currently facing crisis or worse levels of acute food insecurity and are in need of food assistance.
That's an increase of nearly 1.7 million people from the same period in 2019 according the latest Cadre Harmonise (CH) analysis in 2021. This is partly due to the worsening conflict in the north, north-west, and south-west regions compounded by the long-term affects of flooding. As one person in Cameroon stated "When I go out in the morning, I often choose to have lunch around 10 so that I don't have to eat at noon. Because it has become difficult to eat three times a day. It is a luxury I cannot afford." The video documentary (below), while now dated, shows the work of UNICEF in addressing malnutrition in Cameroon for, as the video states, "In a country of relative wealth, a middle-income country, there is really no need for 52,000 children to die each year of malnutrition."
Cameroon Malnutrition: Volunteer in Cameroon
Cameroon Malnutrition: Cameroon Children
Cameroon Malnutrition: Child Sponsor Cameroon
Cameroon Malnutrition: Cameroon Country Profile
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