By: Kebba AF Touray
The 2018 Final Report of the National Assembly Select Committee on Health, Women, Children, Disaster, Humanitarian Relief and Refugees has made critical remarks about the inadequacies and numerous challenges of the national health delivery system.
The Committee at the end of its oversight and statutory function, detected inadequate medical staff, equipment and facilities, staff attrition, lack of government subventions and poor budget allocation among others as challenges confronting the sector.
The Committee recommended among other things that the Ministry provide details of its plans including the timeline, to set up a functional Board of Health to provide oversight of the quality of Healthcare being delivered in the country, the Ministry to organize a multi-stakeholder forum to review and validate the draft Mental Health Bill 2017, as well as the National Health Policy 2015-2024, restructure of the Ministry and requested the Ministry to provide an estimate of the cost of running the Gambian health system.
The report of the Committee was tabled yesterday 6th September 2018 before parliamentarians by the Committee’s Chairperson and Member for Banjul North, Ousman Sillah.
The Select Committee was set up in accordance with sections 102[a] and 109 of the 1997 Constitution and Standing Order number 85. Its key oversight role is to review how effective resources are being spent in accordance with budget appropriation and whether performance targets are met with results achieved in line with National Health Policy 2012-2020 and National Health Strategic Plan 2014-2020.
“The Select Committee is concerned with growing public fears about the quality of care currently being offered to the population. The committee perceives the Board of Health as envisaged in the National Health Policy 2012-2020 as a critical step towards improving the quality of health care”, said Hon. Sillah.
The Committee in a bid to discover the problems facing the country’s health sector and how health services are delivered, had visited 5 hospitals and 2 health facilities from 7th to 21st November 2017 and used face to face meetings, review of health documents and site visits to obtain first-hand information.
After a daylong of extensive debate, Members congratulated the Committee for what they described as worthwhile venture and added that the health sector be adequately funded as dictated by the Abuja declaration which advocates for 15 percent of the country’s economy to be spent on health, stating that health is the business of all.
In the end, the report was adopted by the National Assembly.