This Spring, Health eVillages had the honor of meeting Numfor Alenwi from the Cameroon Agenda for Sustainable Development to discuss the public health challenges adolescent girls face in his country. The Republic of Cameroon has one of the highest school-attendance rates in Africa. However, girls in Cameroon are less likely to finish school due to cultural attitudes, child labor, duties at home, early marriage and pregnancy. In fact, the World Health Organization reported in 2015 that the average age for a woman’s first birth was 19 years old.
The Cameroon Agenda for Sustainable Development (CASD) works to educate girls and young women about sexual and reproductive health and their rights. CASD’s mission is to work with policy makers and grassroots communities to improve the health and socioeconomic conditions of vulnerable women, children and adolescents in ways that are inclusive, accountable and sustainable.
Since 2010, new HIV infections in Cameroon have increased by 5% with adolescents constituting a lion share of the burden. Over 4 % of adolescent girls in Cameroon are living with HIV and the age group remains the most vulnerable to new infections, exacerbated by the ongoing political crisis in the English speaking regions which has internally displaced over 160,000 people and forced most girls to drop out of school. To reduce the rate of infection among adolescent girls, CASD’s “HIV-Free Generation Project” aims to keep them free from HIV and unwanted pregnancies through mobile clinics, outreach education, and community empowerment. Over the next two years, the goal is to reach more than 29,000 adolescents in five rural communities of Cameroon.
We are thrilled to announce that beginning this month, Health eVillages will help equip CASD’s health workers with tablets, educational videos, apps and digital tools as they travel from community to community to help make sure girls know their HIV status and are provided the education needed to stay negative or start treatment. Beneficiaries of the project are provided with free sex education, free HIV screening and free client follow-up.
CASD’s work truly embodies the spirit of “healing the villages” and we look forward to working with them to improve the health of the girls of Cameroon.