Cameroon’s imprint in fighting HIV AIDS, TB and malaria is found in its encompassing programme epitomised by the action of the First Lady, Chantal Biya.
The fight against HIV AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in Cameroon is done from various angles. All these are built in one package that can simply be described as the country’s combined national strategy. This, in effect, takes the form of programmes and projects to say the least. These initiatives are said to have registered comparative progress for all three killer diseases. Since 2010, according to UNAIDS report, AIDS-related deaths have dropped by 19 per cent from 22,000 deaths to 18,000. In the same vein, the number of new HIV infections has equally decreased, from 36,000 to 23,000 during the same period. In 2018, it was established that 540,000 people were living with HIV and the number of new HIV infections among a susceptible population during a certain time-among all people of all ages stood at 1.02 per cent. The percentage of people living with HIV-among adults (15-49 years) was 3.6 while 23,000 people were newly infected with HIV and 18,000 died of AIDS-related diseases. The government and its partners have not been at ease with the situation; and so, have been constantly building up strategies that can scale down figures. The 90-90-90 targets , a whole gamut of visions states inter alia that, by 2020, 90 per cent of people living with HIV will know their HIV status, 90 per cent of those who know their HIV-positive status will be accessing treatment and 90 per cent of people on treatment will have suppressed viral loads. In spite of all that is being done, it should not be forgotten that Cameroon still has one of the highest HIV prevalence in West and Central Africa, with very significant peaks in at-risk populations (26 per cent among sex workers, 20 per cent among homosexuals, girls and other adults). Among the private initiatives in eradicating the disease, is that of the First Lady, Chantal Biya who plays an absolutely exceptional role in the fight against HIV, not only in Cameroon but also in Africa. This effort was recognised by Professor Peter Piot, then Executive Director of UNAIDS, after an audience with the First Lady in June 2003 in the fllowing words; ” I was able to see for myself the actions of the Chantal Biya Foundation , especially the prevention of HIV-AIDS transmission from mother to child, the mobilisation of young people, the work of African Synergies, etc. For me, Chantal Biya is one of the stars of the fight against HIV and AIDS in the world.” Tuberculosis remains one of the serious threats in the country with the World Health Organisation reporting 6.2 per cent incidences. Almost 25,000 new cases were notified in 2017. However, within the framework of the Universal Health Coverage and Social Protection, 52 per cent of treatment has been achieved. As for Malaria, it remains the leading cause of deaths in Cameroon with more than 3,000 deaths recorded in 2018, according to data from the Ministry of Public Health. This disease, which affects about two million Cameroonians each year, represents 30 per cent of consultations and 40 per cent of hospitalisations in the country with highest morbidity among children. In recent years, the government has increased awareness through campaigns to distribute long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (MILDA), but in spite of this, only 59 per cent of the population used the treated net in 2018. Since last February, Cameroon has launched another distribution campaign for more than 14 million MILDAs in a bid to step up the number of users.