By Nelson Manneh
The Ministry of Health has procured 80 new ambulances as it introduces the community ambulance service in the communities.
Health Minister, Dr Amadou Lamin Samateh, said the first batch of 20 ambulances is expected to arrive in the Gambia within the next 10 days, which he said will go a long way in reducing the difficulties people, especially pregnant women face in getting to the health facilities in time.
Minister Samateh said the government and partners have spent over 300 million equivalent on equipment.
“Examples of these are ventilators, oxygen concentrators, endoscopy; pulse oxymeters suction machines 11 autoclaves, patient multiparameter monitors, mobile x-ray machines, oxygen plants, ambulances etc.” he said.
The minister said the scope of services in the country’s health facilities have greatly increased and it is more so in EFSTH.
“Examples of services that were not possible in this country before coming into office of this government are: Endoscopy, both upper and lower gastrointestinal, Laparoscopic surgery (also called pin-hold surgery), Vascular surgery, Joint replacement surgery, Colposcopy, PCR testing for cervical cancer,” he said.
He added: “These were all possible because of the new equipment bought by the government and the specialist made available by the government.”
On Capacity Enhancement
Within the last two years, Samateh said the current government has employed over 300 skilled health personnel to enhance the quality of services in health facilities.
“To build capacity, President Barrow’s government has started training programs in public institutions for the first time in the history of the country in nurse anesthesia and midwifery up to Bsc level,” he said.
He said eighty (80) scholarships have been made available for these training programs and the courses have started, adding beneficiaries of these scholarships include the PRO of the nurses and midwifery association. Samateh said the ministry of health is training an extra 100 community health nurses and 100 state enrolled nurses. These students are all being given scholarships and are to commence school in September 2021, he said.
“For the first time in the history of this country the ministry of health has started residency training in this country. Currently, doctors are being trained at EFSTH in surgery, Pediatrics, and Obstetrics & Gynecology. Training in Family Medicine and Internal Medicine will follow soon. All these are geared towards strengthening the health capacity gaps in our country. Currently, more and more medicines and medical supplies are being delivered to the ministry of Health from the government procurement,” he said.
Minister Samateh said the health insurance bill, which is in the National Assembly, when passed will go a long way in strengthening the health sector.
“The health sector is a very important sector yet it is the most complex and most resource-intensive sector. We certainly need very committed, hardworking, dedicated people who put the lives of the patients first. The majority of the workers in the health sector belong to this group and we commend them sincerely for that,” he said.
However, he said they have challenges of people not doing their work well and they will deal with that.
“On a recent visit I made to a particular hospital, I met the emergency unit of the hospital not clean, with bloodstains on a couch and on the wall, some fans not working and some air conditioners not working when that of the offices of staff is working. We had made it clear that that is not acceptable and would not be tolerated,” he said.
He cited a particular unit that has a ward-in-charge and there is also deputy departmental matron, departmental matron, deputy chief matron, chief matron, administrator, deputy head of the hospital and head of the hospital, head of maintenance and maintenance team.
“It clearly shows that some people are not doing their work and they will deal with it. We wish to assure the people of this country that the ministry of health is doing all it can to provide the health care services that our people deserve. At this juncture, I wish to inform the general body of the nurses, that their allowance increment has been paid by the central bank today and they should check their accounts,” he said.
Minister Samateh said those working in the seven sub-vented hospitals, it is sent to their hospitals for payment. Thus, he urged the nurses to continue their work with even more vigor and dedication.
“We also wish to inform all other health workers that we have started the process for the payment of equivalent allowances to them as well,” he said.