The COVID-19 Pandemic and the Pathology of the Economic and Political Architecture in Cameroon

Healthcare (Basel). 2020 Jun 17;8(2):176. doi: 10.3390/healthcare8020176.


This article examines the factors restricting an effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Cameroon. It argues that structural adjustment policies in the 1980s and 1990s as well as corruption and limited investment in recent times have severely weakened the country's health system. This article also emphasises the interconnection between poverty, slums, and COVID-19. This interconnection brings to the fore inequality in Cameroon. Arguably, this inequality could facilitate the spread of COVID-19 in the country. This article draws attention to the political forces shaping the response to the pandemic and contends that in some regions in the country, the lack of an effective response to the pandemic may not necessarily be due to a lack of resources. In so doing, it critiques the COVID-19 orthodoxy that focuses exclusively on the pathology of the disease and advocates "technical" solutions to the pandemic, while ignoring the political and socio-economic forces that shape the fight against the pandemic. At times, medical supplies and other forms of assistance may be available, but structural violence impairs access to these resources. Politics must be brought into the COVID-19 discourse, as it shapes the response to the pandemic.

Keywords: COVID-19; Cameroon; corruption; health system; out-of-pocket payments; political economy of health; structural adjustment; structural violence.