There is a severe shortage of qualified healthcare professionals in Cameroon. With less than two doctors for every 10,000 people, the public health system largely relies on nurses and midwives and struggles to provide quality medical care. In addition to being insufficiently staffed, the public, free hospitals lack modern facilities and the ability to treat many patients.
These issues are due largely in part to a shortage of governmental public spending. Around 56% of the country’s entire GDP is spent on healthcare. One of the main problems with public health is HIV/AIDS, which roughly 5% of the adult population currently lives with.
In an effort to improve the quality of health care in Cameroon, a private medical system has been introduced. The country is now home to 50 private hospitals, which offer a much higher standard of care and better equipped facilities. Expats living in Cameroon are highly advised to purchase international medical insurance that will cover the cost of private health care.
Education in Cameroon is free and compulsory for six years from the age of six. The first stage of education is primary, followed by seven years of secondary school, which is free and optional. Around 3% of the national GDP is put towards education.
In the far north of the country, where the population is largely nomadic and families live traditional lifestyles, the school attendance rate is extremely low. Further south in the cities and towns, there is a higher attendance rate. Most public schools are taught in a combination of English and French. Religion plays an important role in education in Cameroon, and most public schools are largely Christian faith based. The country is home to a few international schools. These multilingual institutions follow an American school calendar and curriculum and are the most popular choice for expats.
There is an extremely high level of crime in Cameroon. It is important to be vigilant with valuable belongings and to stay away from problem areas. Foreigners may be particularly at risk for a large number of crimes, particularly theft, so expats should take care to ensure that car doors are locked at all times when driving around, only carry small amounts of cash at a time and avoid wearing jewelry or valuable items like watches.
It is also essential to install adequate home protection. Burglar proof metal bars for windows, a secure, high quality lock and a burglar alarm are good ways to avoid home invasions and burglary which are common throughout the country.
Two of Cameroon’s main crime problems are mugging and armed banditry. The towns and cities that expats should avoid are Yaoundé, Douala and Buea, especially when alone and on foot. As well as this, roads that are close to Cameroon’s borders with neighboring countries Nigeria, Chad and Central African Republic are particularly prone to incidents of car-jacking and kidnapping.