The Cameroon Civil Society NCD Alliance has reported cases where persons living with non-communicable diseases like diabetes, strokes, kidney issues and high blood pressure stayed away from hospitals for fear of contracting the COVID-19 pandemic.
The results of a study conducted by the alliance shows that just a few non-state actors adopted some innovative approaches such as contacting patients on phone, providing relevant information on the relationship between their conditions and COVID-19, and the provision of personal protective equipment to persons living with Non-Communicable Diseases, NCDs.
Speaking at a press conference at the close of last week, Professor Jean Claude Mbanya, President of the Cameroon Civil Society NCD Alliance, stressed that COVID-19 has several links with NCDs. He said persons living with NCDs are more vulnerable to the virus and face a higher risk of becoming severely sick or dying from the virus.
“We did a situational analysis of those who had NCDs and COVID-19. With 35 per cent of Cameroonians dying from NCDs, we though it wise to evaluate the country’s preparedness to address COVID-19 and NCDs. We found out that there is a lot of deficiency in terms of education, integration and follow up of these patients because these they stopped coming to the hospitals for fear that they will catch COVID-19,” Professor Jean Claude Mbanya stated.
From the study, the alliance urges actors to rigorously educate stakeholders on how to integrate NCDs in the management of COVID-19. “We will want the government to integrate the treatment of NCDs in the Universal Health Coverage, because we cannot have a two-tier system in the same hospital, where persons with infectious diseases are treated for free, whereas patients with non-infectious diseases have to pay for everything, and if your family is not rich, you will die,” Professor Jean Claude Mbanya further advocates.
Ferdinant Sonyuy, the alliance’s Secretary Generals says it has become incumbent for the state to introduce policies that carter for NCD patients both during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. The need for strong health care systems, he says, have become glarer.