Floods in Douala, Cameroon Raise Malaria Threat

Heavy rainfall flooded several areas of Douala, Cameroon, yesterday, reigniting concerns about increased mosquito population and malaria. Around 3,200 people died of malaria in Cameroon last year. A high proprtion of malaria fatalities occur in Douala.

Around 60 mm of rain fell in 24 hours between 7 and 8 July. Local media say that the city had experienced prolonged showers, lasting between 2 and 4 hours, every day for the last week.

The flooding caused damage to property and blocked road, leaving some areas of the city cut off. Flood water also caused electrical problems leaving some parts of the city without power. The affected areas of the city include Bonanjo, and the low lying areas of Ngangue and Makepe.

Douala is a sea port and Cameroon’s largest city, usually referred to as the country’s economic capital. Heavy rainfall around this time of year is not unusual. The time around July and August is usually considered to be the peak of the rainy season. In August 1966 1240 mm of rain fell in one month.

In August 2000, around 30 percent of homes in the city were flooded after torrential rain fell for 3 days causing some of the worst flooding the city has seen.

Floods in the city are worsened by poor drainage and litter that blocks waterways. Plastic bags in particular, are thought to have caused the most problems for drainage. In 2013, the government banned the production, sale and use of non-biodegradable plastic bags in Cameroon.

Malaria Threat

One of the worst consequences of flooding in Cameroon is the increase of the mosquito population. Deaths from malaria have increased over the last few years. The annual death toll from malaria in Cameroon jumped from less than 2,000 in 2011 and 2012 to over 3,200 in 2013.

Around 40% of malaria deaths occur in the cities of Douala in the Littoral Region and Mokolo in the Far North Region, both of which regularly suffer from floods.

A campaign “Kick Out Palu (Malaria)” was recently launched to help people understand the risks.

At the launch of the campaign in Mach 2014, Alim Hayatou, Cameroon minister in charge of epidemics and pandemics said:

“The increase in the death rate from malaria in Cameroon is disturbing indeed, especially at a time when efforts to combat the disease in African were yielding positive results. The Cameroon government, however, is sparing no efforts to reverse the trend,”.

In 2013, a WHO report said that said 90 percent of all malaria deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa.

malaria campaign
A campaign poster from Kick Out Palu (Malaria)