By Yerima Kini Nsom
Faithful statistics in the fight against any pandemic or any other disease constitute the main advocacy and sensitisation tool. Thus, figures that give a faithful rendition of the situation is very important for policy makers and other stakeholders to weigh the stakes of the disease in order to better fight it.
The current cacophony of contracting figures of the victims of COVID-19 in Cameroon is a damper of no nonsense proportion. It is sowing doubts in the minds and the spirits of many Cameroonians.
Due to the communication gaffe, many people do not know who and what to believe any more in the present chaotic circumstances.
Last week, the Minister of Public Health, Manaouda Malachie, tweeted that the pandemic has harvested the lives of 108 people in Cameroon. A few days later, he said only over 60 people have died of the disease. While announcing the second figure, the Minister did not disown the first one or apologise to Cameroonians to the effect that he made a mistake.
The only other justification could be that Manaouda Malachie, the private individual and Manaounda Malachie, the Minister of Public Health, are two different people with different statistics.
Otherwise, it would be interesting because the Minister’s second figure is giving the impression that over 40 people out of the 108 earlier announced in his tweet, have resurrected. If the Minister makes it clear that those people have risen from the dead, then it will be interesting for Cameroonians to see these epitomes of Christ-like resurrection.
At the time that the Government said over 60 people had lost their lives to COVID-19, the French Council for External Trade, held that over 350 people have died of the disease in Cameroon.
Even when the report was widely circulated in both the social and traditional media, Government has not reacted to this contradiction two weeks after it was published. Many Cameroonians are now confused as to which of the figures is frugal with the truth.
People, who testify having witnessed the affluence of COVID-19 corpses hurriedly buried in the cemeteries in Doula and Yaounde, are tempted to believe that the 350 figure is closer to the truth.
They believe that the number of those already infected is many times higher than the one announced by Government. For one thing, it will be unfortunate if those who call the shots have been playing caddish tricks on this unfortunate situation.
As the whole nation wail in the stranglehold of the Coronavirus, some unscrupulous officials have not budged in their greed. They are still luxuriant in their insatiable quest for political and material aggrandisement. Their kleptomaniac devices are largely responsible for the acute lack of equipment and drugs in many hospitals that would have eased the fight against the pandemic. Even though Government claims that the treatment of the disease is free, many families across the country have complained that hospitals are compelling them to foot the bills of their patients.
One woman told Equinox Television that she spent FCFA one million in a Government hospital in Douala before her husband died of COVID-19.
She said she paid for everything, including oxygen and even gloves that cost only FCFA 200. There are also complaints that some hospitals abandon COVID-19 corpses to families to burry with all the risk involved.
Such a situation obtains at a time when government ordered bars to operate full-time and for taxi cab drivers and those of interurban transport to carry their normal load. And normal load to most of these drivers means overloading of their vehicles to make more money in order to share with the forces of law and order.
By virtue of such controversial reverse, Government has, more or less, offered a huge number of Cameroonians to COVID-19 on a gold platter.
That is why one critic described Government’s fight against the disease as a clean “Bafia dance choreography.” It has been one step forward and two steps backward. The same Government that badly needs the means is rejecting valuable equipment for the simple reason that it is coming from an opposition leader. Not only that. It has dispatched its watchdogs to ensure that the anti-COVID-19 material from the CRM-inspired initiative is not distributed anywhere.
The Deputy Mayor of Monatele in the Lekie Division of the Centre Region discovered that people of his municipality badly need the equipment and decided to take the equipment. But the Divisional Officer, who says he represents Yaounde, has stopped him from distributing the equipment that include, medical and face masks, and testing kits.
Observers are wondering why the administration did not stop the “opposants” from offering equipment to Bishop Samuel Kleda in Douala recently.
Imposing distribution of medical equipment from Yaounde to the 336 Councils without their consent as to what they need is decentralisation to the barons of hyper centralised and bureaucratised system in Yaounde.
That is why the Mayors of Noun Division in the West Region denounced the top-bottom approach in the distribution of equipment from the Head of State.
From every indication, the fight against COVID-19 is replete with contradiction and opacity. Only God, who is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient, can reveal the whole truth of the COVID-19 intricacies.
Again, only God who knows everything and sees far into darkness and reveals deep and secret things, can say how much COVID-19 money is slipping into private pockets with tragic ease in the shielded feat of callous kleptomania.