Cameroon is affected by three simultaneous crises, the Lake Chad Basin crisis affecting the Far North, the Anglophone crisis affecting North-West and South-West and refugees from the Central African Republic (CAR) affecting the eastern parts of the country. The 2022 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO) indicate that an estimated 3.9 million people are in need, of which 57% are children, with the highest severity reported in the Far North, North-West and South-West.
Cameroon has seen significant improvements in human health and development over recent decades. Since 1990, life expectancy at birth has increased by 5.9 years and its Human Development Index (HDI) score has increased by 25.7% from 04.48 to 0.563, placing Cameroon in the lower end of the ‘Medium Development Category’. In terms of Reproductive, Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health (RMNCH) and Family Planning (FP), the situation had been steadily improving, and significant gains have been made since 2000.
The COVID-19 pandemic, however, caused a significant deterioration in economic activity and consumption and has reversed some of the gains made. It is estimated that the crisis increased the extreme poverty rate from 24.5% in 2019 to 25.3% in 2021, whilst public services, including health services, were also severely affected. While Cameroon was among the first countries in Africa to receive vaccines in April 2021, Cameroon has one of the worst COVID-19 vaccination coverage rates in Africa (ranking 43rd of 46th). Throughout the pandemic, the use of family planning and prenatal care services fell by 37% and 18%, respectively. This compounded the existing challenges in RMNCH/FP, for example, each year there are an estimated 389,000 unintended pregnancies, partially owing to a modern contraceptive prevalence rate of 18.7% (2017) and the 51% unmet need for modern contraception. Of the almost 900,000 births each year, 360,000 make fewer than four ANC visits and 340,000 do not deliver in a facility whilst 24% of adolescent girls 16-19 years old have had at least one child.