The dissertation starts from the premise that the relation between poverty and disease is mediated by a person’s capacity to cope with the challenges posed by the natural and social environment.
The study is carried out among two different groups of people in Cameroon: workers including dependants of workers of the Cameroon Development Corporation (CDC) and students from the universities of Buea and Yaoundé I.
The overall aim of this dissertation is to understand how conditions of poverty impact the health of people and how they manage these challenges. Specifically, the study aims to unravel the interlinkages between poverty and health by creating a deeper understanding of the social and material dynamics which enable people’s capacity to preserve health, anticipate health risks, and mitigate or recover from stressors such as PRDs.
Based on the studies carried out, this thesis concludes that the two groups investigated are very aware of what PRDs are and can differentiate them from common diseases. Major PRDs listed by the two groups of respondents were malaria, cholera and diarrhoea.
This classification is different from what is considered major PRDs by (inter)national health bodies such as the World Health Organisation and the Ministry of Public Health in Cameroon. Also, organisations such as CDC and Universities, offer limited contributions towards better health for camp-dwellers and students respectively. This is experienced relative to the living conditions, quality of the healthcare system and poor work or study conditions. That notwithstanding, people play an active role in maintaining their health through diverse coping mechanisms.
Coping was most strongly related to enabling individual factors such as sense of coherence and subjective health, perceptions of effective strategies to respond to diseases as well as social factors such as the meaningful activities in the social groups to which they belong. The results presented in this thesis are intended to contribute to sustainable and effective response strategies towards PRDs.