Hospital consultations have drastically gone down within the last three months of the COVID-19 pandemic in Cameroon, officials say.
Many sick persons now boycott hospitals for fear of being declared COVID-19 positive. A total of 12592 confirmed cases, 313 deaths and 10100 recoveries have been reported in the country.
Roadside side drug vendors , some private clinics and pharmacies are the beneficiaries of the boycott. They are said to have witnessed high sales thanks to the increasing number of patients who demand their services.
Authorities of the Maroua Regional Hospital recently organized a press conference to assure patients that they will receive proper medical care when they visit the hospital.
Hospital officials said patients boycott hospitals when they feel sick . Most of them get forced to go for consultation when the situation has become critical.
Where did this fear come from ?
Rumors have it that people who visit hospitals these days to see doctors for various health issues are infected with the COVID-19 virus or falsely declared positive .
Many say such faulty medical results have hastened the death of many a patient.
But Dr. Erick Tandi , Public Health expert says the rumor is fake news, thought taken seriously by officials .
” That is one of the fake news we are discouraging. However, we take whatever fake news is circulating in the community seriously. We don’t joke with it”.
According to the expert, there are clearcut consultation procedures within the hospital milieu , nationwide. .
” We have clear procedures and hospitals which do preliminary screening. When we discover someone is presenting COVID-19 symptoms, they are sent to another area where specific counseling and collecting of samples will be done. We can only declare someone positive after the test. The other patients without signs and symptoms of the disease are oriented for their normal consultation”.
The rumor also emphasizes that some people who died in hospitals were declared positive for COVID-19 before results were known, but the expert says people no longer have to wait for long hours to get their results.
” We know a few suspected cases who died while waiting for results. Back then, It took about 3-4 days to do the test , but now , it is maximum 15-30 minutes because the rapid diagnostic test had solved that problem “.
Assurance from experts
Although many have been convinced by these rumors , Dr. Erick Tandi assures the public that they will receive proper health care when they visit hospitals.
” One of the things we are doing is continuously informing and educating the public. With the decentralization process, screening has been taken to the population, right into their very communities . Now community leaders are involved in sensitization. All the rumors and scare that people used to have has been solved by the decentralization process. We have even created screening centres where individuals go on voluntary basis to know their status. So, people do not have to be worried about anything”.
Patients’ lives at Risk
Public health experts say boycotting hospitals has clearly contributed to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.
Persons suffering from other diseases expose themselves to quacks who are exploiting the situation for financial gains. Pharmacies and other medicine stores have been highly solicited during this time.
However , health experts have once again stressed that patients seeking health care from unqualified persons are risking their own lives. They also call on those who spread false rumors to put an end to the practice.
Kathy Neba Sina