What is healthcare in Cameroon like?

Facilities and Health Information:

Medical facilities in Cameroon are extremely limited. Even in large cities, emergency care and hospitalization for major illnesses and surgery are hampered by the lack of trained specialists, outdated diagnostic equipment, and poor sanitation. Medical services in outlying areas may be completely non-existent. Doctors and hospitals often require immediate payment for health services in cash and require family members or friends to locate and purchase any medical supplies they will need. Pharmacies in larger towns are well stocked, but in other areas many medicines are unavailable. Be aware of the potential for counterfeit medications, often very well packaged, at any location. You should carry your own properly-labeled supply of prescription and over-the-counter medicines.

The Centers for Disease Control has a comprehensive review of infectious disease issues and overall health recommendations for traveling to Cameroon.

Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease. If you will be visiting Cameroon, you will need to discuss with your doctor the best ways for you to avoid malaria. Ways to prevent malaria include the following:

Taking a prescription antimalarial drug,

Using insect repellent and wearing long pants and sleeves to prevent mosquito bites, and

Sleeping in air-conditioned or well-screened rooms and using bednets.

All of the following antimalarial drugs are equal options for preventing malaria in Cameroon: Atovaquone-proguanil, doxycycline, or mefloquine. For information that can help you and your doctor decide which of these drugs would be best for you, please see Choosing a Drug to Prevent Malaria on the CDC website. Chloroquine is NOT an effective antimalarial drug in Cameroon and should not be taken to prevent malaria in this region.

If you become ill with a fever or flu-like illness while traveling in Cameroon, or for up to one year after returning home, you should seek prompt medical attention and tell the physician your travel history and what antimalarials you have been taking.

Schistosomiasis is endemic in Cameroon. Avoid wading, swimming, bathing, washing in, or drinking from bodies of fresh water such as canals, lakes, rivers, streams, or springs.

There are periodic outbreaks of cholera in Cameroon. People in high-risk areas can protect themselves by following a few simple rules of good hygiene and safe food preparation. These include scrupulous washing of hands under running water, especially before food preparation and eating, thorough cooking of food and consumption while hot, boiling or treatment of drinking water, and use of sanitary facilities. Above all, be very careful with food and water, including ice. Please see the CDC webpage for additional advice.

Yellow fever can cause serious medical problems and the vaccine, required for entry into Cameroon, is very effective. Measles and meningitis are also present in northern Cameroon. You should be sure your vaccinations are current. Polio remains a threat in northern Nigeria and Chad, which share porous borders with Cameroon.

Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious health concern in Cameroon.

Drinking Water Source - % of rural population improved

51.9%

Drinking Water Source - % of total population unimproved:

25.9%

Drinking Water Source - % of urban population improved:

94.1%

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

5.3%

Hospital Bed Density - beds/1,000 population:

1.3

People Living with HIV/AIDS:

610,000

Physicians Density - physicians/1,000 population:

.08

Sanitation Facility Access - % of total population unimproved:

54.8%

Sanitation Facility Access - % of urban population improved:

61.7%

Sanitation Facility Access - % of rural population improved:

26.8%

Infectious Diseases - degree of risk:

Very high

Animal Contact Disease (s):

Rabies

Food or Waterborne Disease (s):

Bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

Respiratory disease (s):

Meningococcal meningitis

Vectorborne Disease (s):

Malaria, dengue fever, and yellow fever

Water contact disease (s):

Schistosomiasis

Medical Insurance in Cameroon

Medical Insurance:

Uninsured travelers who encounter medical emergencies overseas often face extreme difficulties. Most medical insurance plans do not include coverage outside one's country. Getting medical treatment and hospital care abroad can be very expensive, and, if you need it, a medical evacuation back to your country can cost more than $50,000!

Your local embassy may assist in locating appropriate medical services, informing family or friends, and may even assist in the transfer of funds from back home. But ultimately, payment of hospital and other expenses is entirely your responsibility.

Check the terms of your health insurance policy, whether it’s your own, under your parents' policy, or through your school. If you are not covered while out of the country, you may need to purchase additional coverage. Many travel agents and private companies offer plans that will cover health care expenses overseas including emergency services such as medical evacuations.

Mental Health:

Traveling or studying overseas is not a cure for health conditions such as depression or attention deficit disorder. Sometimes going abroad may in fact amplify a condition. One may not have adequate access to prescription medication or mental health facilities. In addition, culture shock, language barriers, and homesickness can deepen isolation or depression.

Before traveling, create a workable plan for managing your mental health while abroad. The availability and quality of mental health services differ widely from country to country. In many countries, one will find it difficult — and sometimes impossible — to find treatment for mental health conditions. With your health services provider or your school, put together a workable mental health plan before you go overseas.

If you have a medical or psychological condition that may require treatment while you are abroad, discuss this ahead of time with your doctor. A vacation or study abroad is a great opportunity to try new things but this is not the time to experiment with not taking your medicine or mixing alcohol with medicine.

Research the social culture of your destination to learn about how mental illnesses are viewed. Attitudes toward mental health can greatly vary between countries.

If you are studying abroad through your university, talk to your university about access to mental health services at overseas programs. Your study abroad office can help you decide what program would be best for you.

If currently receiving mental health services — including prescription medication — find out if those services and/or medication are available at your destination.

Consider the support system you’ll have in place while abroad. If possible, know ahead of time who you can consult about your mental health.

Prescriptions:

While you’re abroad is not the time to suddenly realize you ran out of your prescription!

If you have a condition that requires regular medication, bring an extra quantity with you and pack it in your carry-on, just in case your checked luggage gets lost. Just remember to keep it in its original container and clearly labeled — you don’t want to create the impression you’re carrying drugs that haven’t been prescribed to you. In fact, you should check with the local embassy to make sure that your medication is acceptable to carry into the country. Some countries may consider your prescription medication to be illegal. Bring a letter from your doctor listing your medications and explaining why you need them. Doing your research and having a letter can help prevent any misunderstandings along the way.

Bring extras of any medical necessities you need, like contact lenses or glasses. You might want to pack a pair in both your carry-on bag and your checked luggage, just to be safe.

If you have allergies to certain medications, foods, insect bites, or other unique medical problems, consider wearing one of those “medical alert” bracelets and carry a letter from your doctor explaining the required treatment if you become ill. It might not be the coolest piece of jewelry you wear, but it could save your life.

Vaccinations:

How important is it to do your research about vaccinations? It might just save your life! Make yourself aware of the different types of vaccinations and which ones you may need to travel to your destination. Schedule an appointment with your doctor at least four to six weeks before you travel to ensure you receive all important shots.

Be sure that you and your family are up to date on your routine vaccinations.

Which vaccinations you need will depend on a number of factors including your destination, whether you will be spending time in rural areas, the season of the year you are traveling, your age, health status, and previous immunizations.

Disability Access In Cameroon

Accessibility:

While in Cameroon, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. Despite recent legal efforts to improve accessibility, many buildings remain without adequate infrastructure to accommodate persons with disabilities, and sidewalks are limited and poorly maintained in major cities throughout the country.

Disclaimer

You are responsible for ensuring that you meet and comply with foreign entry requirements, and health requirements and that you possess the appropriate travel documents. Information provided is subject to change without notice. One should confirm content prior to traveling from other reliable sources. Information published on this website may contain errors. You travel at your own risk and no warranties or guarantees are provided by us.

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