By Nelson Manneh
The Ministry of Health has yesterday the 19th of May 2020 responded to the Gambia Moral Congress (GMC) Leader Mr. Mai Ahmed Fatty’s claim on the poor conditions of quarantine centres.
Mr. Modou Njie the Director of Health Promotion and Education at the Ministry of Health who read the statement on behalf of the Ministry of Health, said their Ministry would like to dismiss the claims made by the GMC Leader in his recent press briefing regarding the conditions of the quarantine centres particularly the Badala Park Hotel.
Director Njie said the GMC leader Mai Ahmed Fatty was intercepted together with his wife, male child and the driver of the private vehicle he was travelling in upon returning from the Republic of Senegal by health officials on duties at the Amdalai point of entry and taken to quarantine from the 20th April to 13th May 2020.
“Mr. Fatty said when he was taken to the room where he was isolated, he found nothing there, (reported by the Voice Newspaper, May 14th 2020). The MoH would like to urge the general public to disregard this information as all the quarantine facilities are with hotel standard beds, television, air-condition, dining tables, refrigerator, chair, shower, toilet and room services as well as health services such as psychosocial support and medical care,” he said.
Director Njie said a group of nineteen Journalists from different media houses visited the quarantine centres on the 7th May 2020 when Mr. Fatty and his family were serving their quarantine period.
“Regarding claims of the lack of face masks for health personnel at the quarantine centres, the Ministry of Health would like to inform the general public that as part of its policy, all health personnel at both the quarantine, treatment, laboratory centres are provided with personal protective equipment such as face masks, gloves, etc,” he said.
Mr. Njie said that even persons under quarantine are provided with face masks throughout their quarantine period.
“According to Mr. Fatty, based on his conversation with some frontline health workers during his time under quarantine, Mr. Fatty said that he realized that some of this health personnel have to borrow money in order to get their families’ daily sustenance (the Voice Newspaper, Reported May 14th 2020),” Njie said.
He said the Ministry of Health would like to inform the general public that health workers are civil servants and they are receiving their monthly salaries from The Gambia Government on time.
He added that the government does not give daily sustenance allowance for the upkeep of their families, but the Ministry of Health is providing incentives for all frontline health workers including those at the quarantine centres.
“An initial amount has been paid to all those personnel working at the quarantine centres and plans are at an advanced stage for additional payment of incentives to all frontline workers including the personnel at the quarantine facilities,” he said.
The Director of Health Promotion and Education at the MoH said Mr. Fatty said that some people were picked from streets and were taken directly to quarantine centre with only a trouser, adding that some of these people spent almost all their quarantine period with the same clothes (The Voice Newspaper, 14th May 2020).
Director Njie said the Ministry of Health would like to inform the public that there is no restriction on people under quarantine to be provided with clothes and other basic needs which are channeled by their families through their personnel attached to the centres.
“Persons on quarantine are equally allowed to communicate with their families and loved ones through telephones without restrictions,” he said.
Mr. Njie said during public health emergencies or pandemic, putting people in quarantine or isolations is mandatory as indicated in the National Public Health Act of 1990 and the International Health Regulations 2005 as the best strategy to avoid further transmission of diseases.
“During the quarantine period, the Ministry of Health ensures the provision of three meals to each person under quarantine as opposed to the claim that only one meal is provided,” he said.
He said Mr. Fatty was given the exceptional privilege to cook his choice of meal whenever he feels like doing so.
“In The Gambia, the government through the Ministry of Health is using our meagre national resources to provide standard hotels as quarantine centres at no cost to the person on quarantine for a period of 14 days. This is not the case in many countries where persons on quarantine foot their own bills of all services provided,” he said.
Director Njie said in some cases persons on quarantine are lodged in schools, stadiums and prisons.
“The Ministry of Health would like to assure the general public that the welfare of frontline workers and persons on quarantine are given much attention at all times,” he said.