Education and Health

In 2013, the total adult literacy rate of Cameroon was estimated to be 71.3%. Among youths age 15-24 the literacy rate was 85.4% for males and 76.4% for females.

Most children have access to state-run schools that are cheaper than private and religious facilities. The educational system is a mixture of British and French precedents with most instruction in English or French.

Cameroon has one of the highest school attendance rates in Africa. Girls attend school less regularly than boys do because of cultural attitudes, domestic duties, early marriage, pregnancy, and sexual harassment.

Although attendance rates are higher in the south, disproportionate number of teachers is stationed there, leaving northern schools chronically understaffed. In 2013, the primary school enrollment rate was 93.5%.

School attendance in Cameroon is also affected by child labor. Indeed, the U.S. Department of Labor Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor reported that 56% of children aged 5 to 14 were working children and that almost 53% of children aged 7 to 14 combined work and school.

In December 2014, a List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor issued by the Bureau of International Labor Affairs mentioned Cameroon among the countries that resorted to child labor in the production of cocoa.

The quality of health care is generally low. Life expectancy at birth is estimated to be 56 years in 2012, with 48 healthy life years expected. Fertility rate remain high in Cameroon with an average of 4.8 births per woman and an average mothers’ age of 19.7 years old at first birth.

In Cameroon, there is only one doctor for every 5,000 people, according to the World Health Organization. In 2014, just 4.1% of total GDP expenditure was allocated to healthcare.

Due to financial cuts in the health care system, there are few professionals. Doctors and Nurses who are trained in Cameroon emigrate because in Cameroon the payment is poor while the workload is high. Nurses are unemployed even though their help is needed.

Some of them help out voluntarily so they will not lose their skills. Outside the major cities, facilities are often dirty and poorly equipped.

In 2012, the top three deadly diseases were HIV/AIDS, Lower Respiratory Infection, and Diarrheal Diseases. Endemic diseases include dengue fever, filariasis, leishmaniasis, malaria, meningitis, schistosomiasis, and sleeping sickness.

The HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in 2016 was estimated at 3.8% for those aged 15–49 although a strong stigma against the illness keeps the number of reported cases artificially low. 46,000 children under age 14 were estimated to be living with HIV in 2016.

In Cameroon 58% of those living with HIV know their status and just 37% receive ARV treatment. In 2016, 29,000 died due to AIDS occurred in both adults and children.

Breast ironing, a traditional practice that is prevalent in Cameroon, may affect girls’ health. Female genital mutilation (FGM), while not widespread, is practiced among some populations; according to a 2013 UNICEF report, 1% of women in Cameroon have undergone FGM.

Also impacting women and girls’ health, the contraceptive prevalence rate is estimated to be just 34.4% in 2014. Traditional healers remain a popular alternative to evidence-based medicine.