Chronicles of a deadly virus

At the moment, the world speaks one language, “corona” is on everyone’s lip, in every home’s conversation and on every social media timeline. In WhatsApp groups people share messages and tips on how to prevent the spread of the virus. Any coughing or sneezing becomes suspicious as everyone is paranoid. Corona virus disease symptoms are so similar to those of common flu that health professionals and other media have take time to make clear the differences via videos and posters to avoid paranoia .As a reminder, the corona virus disease (covid-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered corona virus. It was first detected in the Central city of Wuhan in the Hebei province in China and rapidly made its way to Europe America and is gradually getting into Africa with about 40 countries affected. We are still to recover from the ravages of malaria; Ebola and other deadly diseases that we have another powerful enemy; covid-19. Africans who thought melanin was virus-proof are gradually beginning to change attitudes as news of Africans dying due to the illness come up everyday. No, it is not common flu or influenza that can cured with all the DIY homemade remedies found on the internet. The question now how ready is Africa ready to face this big challenge? New cases of contaminations are recorded in Africa everyday and most of them are imported from infected countries into Africa. The number of deaths in China traumatized the entire world and those in Italy are even worst with hundredths of recorded deaths daily. One is forced to think, if countries that are much more developed than many African countries are succumbing to the virus what more of us? The greatest challenge of Africa apart from poor mentality towards prescribed actions to stop the ravages of the disease is poor health and water infrastructures. We are not trying to be pessimists but what can we do if our first line of attack against the virus is hand washing when more than 70% of homes do not have clean water or basic water facilities?, if our hospitals are not even ready to handle regular health cases?. Governments of some countries are taking strict measures such as lockdown of airports and complete confinement but some are waiting for the worst to happen before they react. But this slowness to reaction is what is going to seal the fate of numerous Africans. While waiting to see that our different governments react, let’s keep faith, stay home, avoid crowded places and make sure we observe as much as we can hygiene rules.

Vanessa Donkeng

GYN volunteer.

International Women’s Day: 35 editions later, what next?

Every year, on the 8th of March, International Women’s Day is celebrated by women worldwide. The United Nations began celebrating women’s day in the 1975 and in 1977, the UNs General Assembly invited members states to proclaim 8 of March as the UN’s day for women’s rights. This day was born as a result of feminists fights from European and American continent. It symbolically marks a day for advocacy for women’s rights and the fight against all sorts of discrimination against women and girls. It calls for reflexion and advocacy on the issues of gender equality. The African continent has not been left out as there is usually a plethora of activities carried out in various and different African countries leading to the 8th of March. Amongst such activities, we have educative talks on subjects like GBV, entrepreneuship, sexual and reproductive health and rights.
In Cameroon for example, the Ministry of women’s empowerment and the family organizes activities for one week before the 8th of march. However, after 35 editions of women’s day celebration, what are the outcomes?. Recent statistics still show that, women’s rights are abused every second and particularly in Africa where roots of patriachy and immoral traditions and cultures are still very much embedded. The government, local and international NGOs and many Civil Society Organizations have been working day in day out to reduce discriminatory acts against women but much still has to be done as there are still high rates of feminicides, rapes, FECMs and FGMs in the world and mostly in Africa. There is therefore a great need for advocacy, particularly to hold accountable the government of countries who ratify and sign international conventions like the CEDAW and the Maputo protocol but do not concretely apply them.
In the light of these events, one thing is sure, we have gone a long way already but we still need a change of mentality towards women and women’s rights; firmer and more innovative ideas to achieve objectives of having a global village, where everyone and women in particular are given equal opportunities to explore their full potentials free of coercion.


Written and compiled by Vanessa Donkeng-GYN Volunteer.