News / Africa

    Cameroon Slowly Losing Tradition of Caring for Elderly at Home

    Societal changes are causing Cameroon to consider more care centers for the elderly as fewer people adhere to the tradition of "at-home" elder care for family members.

    Ndula Pascaline, of Yaounde's Bethanie Viacam center for old, invalid and abandoned persons, says it was once a social taboo in Cameroon for people to place their parents in assisted-living homes, but now, whether its because of a lack of funds or disinterest, more people are disregarding that tradition.

    Pascaline says as many youth head to cities to find work, they feel they are left with no option other than to leave their parents at home in villages or at care centers.

    She says another group of elderly that are often abandoned are those who are accused of practicing witchcraft.

    Needs of the elderly

    A 2013 study by the Central African Economic Commission and the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights found that just 10 percent of Cameroonians have social insurance plans that help take care of them in their old age.

    Richard Ndi Tantoh, director of the nongovernmental organization Ecumenical Service for Peace, piloted the study. He says it is imperative for the government to take care of the needs of the elderly.

    "We are going to engage stakeholders with this study so that they see what exactly is happening with the elderly around Africa. So that at least we should begin to reflect on how we can set up a system which will be able to rehabilitate elderly persons," Tantoh said. "They are people who spent their lives working to build a country and I don’t think it is good for the country to abandon them when they are at old age."

    Still, some elderly say they are being abandoned by family members when they begin to succumb to health issues.

    Ngah Gisselle, 72, has been at Yaounde's Bethanie Viacam center for four years. She says she was abandoned by her family and two children who, according to cultural tradition, are supposed to take care of her.

    Gisselle says a kind stranger brought her to the center when she started suffering from chronic heart infections.

    When she recovered, she was told a Jesuit priest brought her to the center. She credits the center's care for her present health.

    Jobs elsewhere

    The center is home to 45 elderly people, including former teacher Jean Etoundi, 84, who says his daughter brought him to the center because her career -- a job in Cameroon's economic capital, Douala -- meant she could no longer live with and care for him.

    Etoundi, who is paralyzed, says his daughter sends money for his care.

    Some of the elderly in Cameroon say they never had sufficient means to prepare for retirement and old age, especially after Cameroon's currency suffered a 50 percent devaluation in 1994 and state workers saw their salaries cut by 60 percent.

    Social worker Mbiybe Rosaline says such conditions made it difficult for many people to prepare for retirement.

    "When they leave work and they go back to the village, they don't have what they need to take care of themselves, especially those who did not prepare towards their old age, Rosaline said. "So we are trying to see how we make a society that is inclusive, that will make everybody feel comfortable."

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    This forum has been closed.
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora