Sunday, August 18, 2019

New Health Minister Committed To Tackle Challenges Confronting The Sector

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By: Kebba AF Touray

The newly appointed Minister of Health Dr Ahmadou Lamin Samateh, has disclosed that all the shortcomings confronting the health sector will be addressed. Samateh disclosed this at the National Assembly before the Lawmakers on Tuesday April 2nd 2019.

He assured that the operation theatre at the Essau Health Center, will be revitalized to serve the health demands of residents after years of dysfunction; that the issues affecting Njau Health Center will be taken up with urgency.

Samateh stated that the Maintenance Unit under the Health Ministry will be effectively utilized, with a view to reducing the cost of remuneration and maintenance, while citing the limited funding for their development; that as such, he urged health funding development to be increased in the 2020 financial year, to meet the targeted development goals.

“We will institute a functional hosting policy whereby medical officials will be willing to be posted in the provinces. Their housing should be acceptable and comfortable, with possible compensations. This will encourage them to be willing to stay in those areas,” he said.

On the rate of referrals to neighbouring countries, Samateh disclosed that the health system previously was run down, especially at the EFSTH; that coupled with dilapidated structures, and low staff morale, this was combatted and brought to the level of a standard teaching hospital; that this is a huge challenge in view of the financial expenses involved.

“Some time ago we submitted a proposed budget of what it takes to manage a proper teaching hospital, to Deputies of the National Assembly select committee on Health Committee. We will be happy if we get this proposed budget’s approval. Nonetheless, we have identified gaps when it comes to specialist care and appealed to the Government of Cuba, who have recently sent some specialists, including neurosurgeon and we are expecting more,” he said.

He continued: “This is not sustainable. Sustainability requires us to build local capacity. We have to train our own people. Primary Health Care is the back bone of the current health system in The Gambia and it is still in existence. Its implementation is ongoing at the various levels of our health delivery systems. The Ministry has established a Primary Health Care (PHC) Unit to revitalize the system, and is charged with the responsibility of coordinating PHC activities across the country,” he concludes.

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