By: Kebba AF Touray
The Gambia’s Finance Minister, Mambury Njie, has disclosed to members of the National Assembly that the Gambia has recently signed a grant financing of US$50 million with the World Bank, meant for additional financing of essential health service strengthening project.
He explained that this financing will go towards improving the quality of essential primary health care and health services delivery using results-based financing approach, community engagement to improve utilization of quality health services, and building resilience and sustainable health systems to support the delivery of quality health services.
“On eye care services, Gambia has successfully eliminated trachoma as a public health problem, being the second country in SSA as the 11th country globally to do so. The nutrition educators of health professionals (NEHP) in collaboration with partners from Turkey, conducted 200 free cataract operations in our hospitals”, Njie told lawmakers.
The Health Ministry, he said, is drafting the health policy 2021-2030 and the strategic plan 2021-2025. The Policy will guide the Ministry in its efforts to strengthen health services, and as well make them more affordable and accessible to all, without compromising quality.
He told the legislature that the health sector has accelerated the training of health professionals through the HSS Project under the global fund. This supported the Ministry’s efforts towards achieving the required health worker density threshold. However, the high attrition rate of skilled health workers remains a major challenge.
“Significant progress has been registered in the process of developing a national health research policy to facilitate the promotion, coordination and conduct of research for evidence-based decision making, to improve health outcomes that meet the developmental needs of the population,” he said.
As part of the COVID-19 relief support, Minister Njie said, the country received medical supplies worth over D31 million through the South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund set up by the People’s Republic of China, to address problems in accessing higher education. The Ministry continues its effort with donors of the University of The Gambia’s (UTG) Faraba Banta Campus Project, for the completion of its first phase which consists of five faculties, expected to be completed in early 2022. He said Government has received commitment for additional funding of the second phase of the Project, which comprises the remaining facilities.
He also stated that the Ministry is finalizing arrangements for the completion and operationalization of two new technical and vocational education and training (TVET) centers in Ndemban and Kanilai, to further provide more opportunities for rural youth to access skills training and gainful employment for enhanced livelihoods. He also added that skills centers in Mansakonko and Julangel are earmarked for expansion in 2022.
Finance Minister Mambury Njie reiterated that through research promotion and encouraging a culture of research, the Ministry has developed the first ever national research policy which is in the process of being validated.
“In order to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic which has caused delay in the implementation of the sector’s activities and projects, the Ministry has developed a business continuity plan to ensure the existence of online platforms and management systems that facilitate online interactive learning and an e-library service for students, to continue their learning without hindrance”, the Minister explained.