By: Kebba AF Touray
The National Assembly Select Committee on Health yesterday engaged Officials of the Health Ministry at the Legislative House in Banjul.
The interface is in response to the Committees’ invitation for the Ministry to share with them the Policy direction of the Ministry.
The interface brought together top Officials of the Ministry and Committee Members.
Permanent Secretary Dawda Ceesay, informed the convergence that the National Health Policy 2012-2020 dubbed Health is Wealth, targets the acceleration of quality of health service and universal coverage.
He said “The vision of the policy is to provide quality and affordable health for all by 2020. Its mission is to promote and protect the health of the population through the equitable provision of quality health care”.
Ceesay added “the goal of the policy is to reduce morbidity and mortality to contribute significantly to quality of life in the population”.
He informed the Committee that the objectives of the policy include but not limited to, reduce morbidity and mortality associated with major causes of disease in children less than five years, ensure access to basic health care for all Gambians, increase immunization coverage to at least 90 percent for all antigens at national and regional levels and reduce the burden of communicable diseases.
He highlighted poor attitude of service providers, frequent changes in top management positions at the health Ministry, loss of institutional memory and policy flow, inadequate financial and logistic support, lack of effective and efficient referral system, high attrition rate and poverty, among others as the bottlenecks facing the Ministry.
Dr. Ahmadou Lamin Samateh, the Health Minister, said the policy direction is anchored on the national health policy and stressed that as the policy nears expiry, there is the need to develop a new policy, that will capture new medical realities.
He said a lot of measures have been taken in a bid to reduce both maternal mortality and under five mortality, such as provision of a BP testing equipment, hemoglobin meters in the villages for testing HB, as well as training of personnel and awareness sensitization, to instil in people the importance of acting on time on the issue.
Ousman Sillah, the Chairperson of the Committee, said the Committee is mandated by sections 102(a) and 109 (e) of the 1997 Constitution of the Gambia, as well as Standing Orders 85, to perform this oversight.
Sillah stated: “This is engagement process is primarily aimed to ensure quality health care, that is affordable, accessible and efficient to the populace.”
He assured the Ministry of his committees’ support in a view to meeting the quality health care need of the citizenry.