By Amie Sanneh
The Medical and Dental Association of the Gambia (AGSM) on Saturday 21 May, 2016, held its second Annual Scientific Meeting at a local hotel in Kololi.
Sponsored by the WHO, the theme for this year’s meeting was Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID), in particular Ebola and the subtheme was Practical Management of Cardiovascular emergencies, head and spinal cord in the Gambia and Senegal.
The Secretary General of the Gambia Medical and Dental Association, Dr. Saihou Sabally, said the scientific meeting was meant to support and update members on the new trends in general and medical and dental practicing in particular.
He said there were imminent professors and Doctors who were going to discuss the management of cardiovascular issues and practical management of head and spinal injuries in the Gambia and Senegal. They were also to give attention to facial muscular injuries and management of emerging infectious diseases like Ebola.
Dr. Sabally expressed hope that through the meeting their members’ knowledge would be updated and they would support and maintain the aims of the association.
The President of the Association, Dr. Omar Jagne, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of Africmed Clinic, said the forum was the second annual scientific meeting organized by the association.
According to him, Cardiovascular and Spinal Injury are becoming a problem as people often have high blood pressure and eventually stroke which can be fatal and can lead to disability. “If people have high blood pressure and they are not controlled, it affects their hearts, their way of living, economy, which affects the family,” he said.
Commenting on Spinal Injury, Dr. Jagne explained that there are many vehicles and accidents do always occur, and there are people who do not always have the best care, he stated. “Organised emergency response ambulance across the whole country is something that needs to be looked at, how to improve the medical service and also what can be done to make vehicles safer for people,” noted Dr. Jagne. He also stressed that drivers need to respect the rules and regulations of traffic to avoid accidents which can mostly be avoided.
At the end of the forum, he said they would highlight these issues and suggest ways of resolving them. He expressed hope that the responsible partners would look at it and formulate ways and plans together with the medical team, both private and public, to have the right policies and framework, method and system in place to ensure that these issues are reduced.
On his personal view, he said the challenges faced are lack of trainings up to the specialist level. “Funding for training is very important as you cannot have a quality service if you do not get the quality people, and you cannot get the quality people if you are not trained,” Dr. Jagne emphasised. He also stressed the need for health facilities to be sponsored with equipment for effective treatment.
He finally advised his colleagues to be hard working, disciplined and honest. “It is us as Gambians who alone can develop the country; we can get help from other institutions. Gambians should take the development of the health service in their own hands,” he concluded.
In his keynote address, the World Health Organisation Representative in the Gambia, Dr. Charles Segoe Moses, said today the world is experiencing health challenges and outbreaks in a rather unusual manner attributed largely to globalization. Health challenges in both developed and developing countries are now almost similar, he said. “This has been illustrated during the SARS, Ebola and currently Zika Virus outbreaks.” According to him, the largest and most deadly was the unprecedented Ebola outbreak in the sub-region. He stated that there are several key lessons that need to be learned from the Ebola experience, such as countries with weak health systems and few basic health infrastructure in place cannot withstand certain shocks, whether from a changing environment or runaway virus.
On Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs), the WHO representative said that globalization of unhealthy lifestyle, coupled with ageing and rapid unplanned urbanization are the main drivers for NCDs in the Africa Region. “It is estimated that the death toll from tobacco abuse alone will reach 10 million a year over the next two decades. Up to 70%of these deaths, caused by lung cancer, cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), lung diseases, diabetes and many other tobacco-related ailments is estimated to occur in developing countries.” According to him, these countries are at particularly risk as industrialised countries increasingly ban cigarette advertisements, and tobacco companies intensively target people in poorer nations as potential customers. The high incidence of smoking among children and adolescents and the disturbingly low age of irritation raise additional concerns, said WHO representative. “Given these scenarios, it is becoming more obvious that health issues cannot just be dealt with by individual countries but by international organisations and agreements.”