Academic journal article Journal of International Women's Studies

Access to Healthcare Vis-a-Vis Women's Reproductive Health in Cameroon

Academic journal article Journal of International Women's Studies

Access to Healthcare Vis-a-Vis Women's Reproductive Health in Cameroon

Article excerpt


All over the world, several million women die each year, and 90% of them in developing countries from pregnancy and childbirth related causes (World Health Organisation Magazine on Women's Health, 1995). Nearly all of these are preventable, yet in Cameroon, this is far fetched. This study questions why women die from these causes? Is it due to government neglect, and / or women's callous attitude toward pregnancy and/or the patriarchal control of women? Are healthcare facilities lacking or rudimentary, inadequately staffed, and / or expensive? This study argues that limited access to healthcare facilities drains women's reproductive health down the spiral in Munyenge-Cameroon

Via open-ended semi-structured interview guide questions data was solicited from 40 pregnant women between 15-45 years (Denzin & Lincoln, 1998). Interviews followed a topic guide and exploited interviewees' different views focused on different themes to elicit reflective accounts which enabled respondents talked freely about highly personal issues which rekindled their memories on reproductive health problems due to limited access to healthcare facilities. All interviews were tape-recorded in 'Pidgin English' (a lingua franca) to eschew questions being misconstrued if asked in English, and this tremendously enhanced data reliability and validity. The data was transcribed into English to ease data interpretations, explanations, discussions and analyses. The findings provide a comprehensive picture of healthcare service mismanagement of facilities, men's control of women due to socio-cultural tenets, financial vulnerability of women hence limit their access to health care facilities.

Keywords: Access; Healthcare; Women's Reproductive Health, Cameroon.


Health is the aggregate of our successful attainment of a state of wellness, our acquired capacity to resist disease, our success in achieving the series of developmental tasks in the sequence of mental and social development at each stage of our life span (World Health Organization, 1958). But this cannot be achieved without health institutions and /or access to health institutions, able to provide adequate healthcare. Access to these services is fundamental in every country, as this reflects their socioeconomic and political structure. The overarching question is: why do women have limited access to healthcare facilities in Munyenge-Cameroon?

Cameroon lately introduced healthcare policies via the Ministry of Health, intended to improve standard of health, which determines its development. Are these healthcare facilities adequate to prevent pregnant women from dying during pregnancy and/or childbirth? The major objective is to explore women's limited access to healthcare facilities. Because wellness is the physical, mental and psychological well-being and not the mere absence of disease or infirmities (World Health Organisation, 1958), women's reproductive health vary significantly across cultures. For example,

i. Socio-economic dependency particularly with men as 'bread-winners';

ii. Patriarchal structures ensure men to subjugate women hence compromise women's reproductive health;

iii. Social welfare policies / health inequalities discriminates against women, a consequence of differentials of what social change does to people's socioeconomic circumstances;

iv. Socio-epidemiology, relating to what people's socio-economic circumstances do to their health for instance, job type and income level differentials.

Women's physical and mental peculiarities are linked to their reproductive functions and their particular experiences of pathology define the norm of the female body legitimated by medical practice in the science of gynecology. Similarly, during puberty to menopause (women's sexual activity peak), most women are vulnerable to gynecological complications, and after menopause, because they have less sexual activity and its many demands on the powers of their systems and health, suffer less from reproductive diseases and become more secure against extraneous battles. …

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