The Burden of Orphans and Vulnerable Children Due to HIV/AIDS in Cameroon



Dickson S Nsagha*, 1, Anne-Cécile ZK Bissek2, Sarah M Nsagha3, Jules-Clement N Assob4, Henri-Lucien F Kamga5, Dora M Njamnshi6, Anna L Njunda5, Marie-Thérèse O Obama7, Alfred K Njamnshi2
1 Department of Public Health and Hygiene, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Buea, Buea, Cameroon
2 Department of Internal Medicine & Specialties (Dermatology and Neurology), Faculty of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, University of Yaounde I, Yaounde, Cameroon
3 Department of Educational Psychology, Faculty of Education, University of Buea, Buea, Cameroon
4 Department of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Buea, Buea, Cameroon
5 Department of Medical Laboratory Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Buea, Buea, Cameroon
6 HIV Day Care Centre, Yaoundé Central Hospital, Yaounde, Cameroon
7 Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, University of Yaoundé I, Yaoundé, Cameroon/Ministry of women’s Empowerment and the Family, Yaoundé, Cameroon


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© Nsagha et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/) which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Public Health and Hygiene, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Buea, P.O. Box 63, Buea, Cameroon; Tel: +237 77499429; E-mails: nsaghads@hotmail.com, dsnsagha@gmail.com


Abstract

HIV/AIDS is a major public health problem in Cameroon and Africa, and the challenges of orphans and vulnerable children are a threat to child survival, growth and development. The HIV prevalence in Cameroon was estimated at 5.1% in 2010. The objective of this study was to assess the burden of orphans and vulnerable children due to HIV/AIDS in Cameroon. A structured search to identify publications on orphans and other children made vulnerable by AIDS was carried out. A traditional literature search on google, PubMed and Medline using the keywords: orphans, vulnerable children, HIV/AIDS and Cameroon was conducted to identify potential AIDS orphans publications, we included papers on HIV prevalence in Cameroon, institutional versus integrated care of orphans, burden of children orphaned by AIDS and projections, impact of AIDS orphans on Cameroon, AIDS orphans assisted through the integrated care approach, and comparism of the policies of orphans care in the central African sub-region. We also used our participatory approach working experience with traditional rulers, administrative authorities and health stakeholders in Yaounde I and Yaounde VI Councils, Nanga Eboko Health District, Isangelle and Ekondo Titi Health Areas, Bafaka-Balue, PLAN Cameroon, the Pan African Institute for Development-West Africa, Save the orphans Foundation, Ministry of Social Affairs, and the Ministry of Public Health. Results show that only 9% of all OVC in Cameroon are given any form of support. AIDS death continue to rise in Cameroon. In 1995, 7,900 people died from AIDS in the country; and the annual number rose to 25,000 in 2000. Out of 1,200,000 orphans and vulnerable children in Cameroon in 2010, 300,000(25%) were AIDS orphans. Orphans and the number of children orphaned by AIDS has increased dramatically from 13,000 in 1995 to 304,000 in 2010. By 2020, this number is projected to rise to 350,000. These deaths profoundly affect families, which often are split up and left without any means of support. Similarly, the death of many people in their prime working years hamper the economy. Businesses are adversely affected due to the need to recruit and train new staff. Health and social service systems suffer from the loss of health workers, teachers, and other skilled workers. OVC due to HIV/AIDS are a major public health problem in Cameroon as the HIV prevalence continues its relentless increase with 141 new infections per day. In partnership with the Ministry of Social Affairs and other development organizations, the Ministry of Public Health has been striving hard to provide for the educational and medical needs of the OVC, vocational training for the out-of- school OVC and income generating activities for foster families and families headed by children. A continous multi-sectorial approach headed by the government to solve the problem of OVC due to AIDS is very important. In line with the foregoing, recommendations are proposed for the way forward.

Keywords:: AIDS, AIDS orphans, Cameroon, care, Central Africa, HIV, orphans, OVC effort index, prevalence, support, vulnerable children..