By Amie Sanneh
The AFPRC General Hospital in Farafenni will be benefitting from a Neonatal Health Care Service through a project from the Islamic Development Bank.
The project which will start in January is expected to last for two years from where the Gambia Government will take over.
Dr. Mamadi Cham, Chief Executive Officer of the Farafenni AFPRC General Hospital recalled that in October 2015, he was fortunate to attend a workshop in Bangladesh that encourage South- South cooperation and there was an opportunity for participants to write a proposal and forwarded it to the Bank for consideration. When he came to the country, he said, he has interest in neonatal health as they have only one neonatal health care unit in Banjul and there is none in the rural area so children in need of such service are referred to Banjul. Dr. Cham noted that the team first came in July this year to do the fact finding and that is the report they were validating for consideration to set up the intensive care unit in Farafenni. He said everything is signed now, and the project will kick start in January 2017 for a period of two years from where the government will take over for the sustainability of the project. For the past three days they were implementing the work plan, equipment and other things that need to be done, he said.
The Deputy Permanent Secretary Technical at the Health ministry, Janko Gimbara, said as a ministry, they are committed to the delivery of quality health care to all living in the Gambia and beyond. He however described this as a challenge but quickly added that the ministry is doing all it can to overcome most of the challenges. According to him, neonatal intensive care is only limited to the Greater Banjul Area and this will be the first of its kind to be implemented in the rural area where the service is more important.
Establishing this at the AFPRC General Hospital, DPS Gibara said it came at a time when the health ministry is revolutionizing the culture of health care and trying to expand service delivery to all corners of the country. With this project, he expressed optimism that people living in other parts of the country will also benefit from it. He assured them that his ministry will work towards the implementation and sustenance of the project.
Sameh Hussein, Capacity Development Department, Islamic Development Bank, for his part, said they have reached an important milestone of the project. He noted that they still have two challenges to go through, which is the implementation and sustainability of the project.
Mr. Hussein however said he is optimistic that together they can go through these challenges for the benefit of the people in the Gambia.
The Minister of Health and Social Welfare Omar Sey said the project is guided by the CEO of AFPRC General Hospital following a workshop he attended on behalf of the ministry in Bangladesh almost a year ago. He said the issue of sustainability which is in line with the IDB policy, should not be a cause for concern as government is committed to the implementation of the project. He said they are in haste for the project to be realized not for political reason but for the benefit of the people living in this country. Minister Sey stated that their vision is to bring health service delivery to the doorstep of the citizenry which is why they are moving out of the city to the rural area to establish it there. According to him, most of the neonatal deaths are attributed to the lack of knowledge. However, he noted that apart from the health service delivery, the project will help change the perception of the community in their social behavior noting that most of the neonatal deaths are attributed to lack of knowledge, and also traditional belief. As a department, he said they have a responsibility to provide quality health care services which is accessible to the citizenry. The health minister said from the signing they are looking forward to the implementation of the project.