Minister Samateh Reveals Government’s Plan to Improve Gambia’s Health Sector


By Nelson Manneh

Dr. Ahamadou Lamin Samateh, the Minister of Health, has on Tuesday 31st August 2021 unveiled The Gambia Government’s plan to improve the county’s health sector.

Minister Samateh said the Essau Health centre is being expanded and renovated, adding the theatre is now functional and caesarean sections are carried out to save the lives of pregnant women.

“A new maternity block has been built in Njau health centre to alleviate their perennial challenge in the care of the pregnant women; Government is setting up a new hemodialysis centre in Bansang Hospital to alleviate the suffering of the people coming for dialysis services. This building is now ready for use,” he said on Tuesday at a press conference.

He said the health facility in Wulli Kerewan was expanded and new structures built to make access to services for people easy.

“Government has built 5 new RCH centres which will function also as health posts in Brikama Nyambai, Brikama Wellingara, Makumbaya, Busumbala and Foni Tampoto. These are awaiting inauguration. Construction work will begin for another fourteen including the following villages: Bullenghati, Madina Sancha, Madina Angella, Buduck, Buffer Zone, Bakau, Nyangen, Timbing Koto, Madina Modum, Jesadeh and Ballanghar Jaloto,” he said.

Dr. Samateh said the government is constructing 6 new health centres in Njau, Kissima Jaw, Mankamang kunda, Jali, Sare Julden and Salient, adding that the President will do the foundation laying ceremonies during his tour.

“We are happy to inform you that construction work of a new teaching hospital will soon start at Farato. This will start in phases with the initial phase being a 100 bed emergency treatment centre, new public health laboratory, blood transfusion centre and conference centre. The bids have been opened and are being evaluated. State of the art 37 million dalasi medical waste management building is being constructed in Farato and Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital. The equipment for these sites are already in-country and are awaiting installation,” he said.

Samateh told the press that the tender for the renovation of Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital and the Banjul Polyclinic has been opened and are being evaluated. Renovation works in the health facilities will start in September 2021, he added.

The minister said numerous health facilities are being renovated and expanded, saying Kuntair health centre will have an overall renovation and expansion starting next week.

He said the Brikama and Serrekunda health centres are undergoing expansion work, as well as the Brikamaba, Basse and Brikama health centres and Bwiam General Hospital with the support of the World Bank. All have been assessed and work will start soon, he said.

“Tenders are currently being advertised in the newspapers for the expansion, renovation and upgrading of Fajikunda Health centre, Sukuta Health centre, Nawleru, kerr Ardo and Darul-Rilwan Health Posts. Old Yundum Health Post, Gunjur Health and Brufut health Centres have been assessed and renovation work will soon start in them. The government and partners have built three temporarily treatment centres in Essau, Soma and Bansang. These are 20 beds facilities each and are ready to use,” he said.

Minister Samateh said construction work for 8 permanent treatment centres is currently ongoing in Kanuma, NJaba kunda, Pallen Wassu, Yero bawol, Sabi, Bansang, Soma and kafuta. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, he went on, there was no infectious disease centre in the country and the government has upgraded, renovated and modified the former NDEMBAN Clinic and renamed it as Edward Francis Small teaching hospital, Bakau centre. This facility has been very helpful because it is now our main COVID-19 treatment centre, he added.

He said his ministry is putting up 11 ambulance centres along the highways at Bakau sting corner, Ghana Town, Mandinaba, Kalaji, Kwenilla, Bakadagi, Sami Karantaba, Jareng, Nianga bantang, Njaba Kunda and Ndungu Kebbeh.

“These will be manned by paramedics for rapid response to accidents. 16 health workers were sent to Turkey 3 days ago to train as trainers for the pre-hospital emergency care of patients. This will go a long way in reducing morbidity and mortality on the high ways. Work will start in September 2021,” he said.

Samateh said to reduce open use of toilets along the highways, the ministry of health is building 13 rest stations which will have toilets and a seating hall which will maintain the dignity of the people when they travel along the highway.

“These facilities will be located in Kalaji, Soma, Brikama-Bas, Basse, YerroBawel Junction, Laminkoto Junction, Kaur, Farafenni, Brikama, Barra, Brikama garage, Tanji Fish Landing Site and Banjul Terminal,” he said.

With regard to the health sector performance in The Gambia, Minister Samateh said the Public Relations Officer of the nurses association is misinforming the public that the country’s health sector is the worst in Africa.

“This statement is certainly not true and we wish to inform him that he does not have the competence to make such statements as he lacks the experience and exposure to make those statements. Health sector performance is based on certain indicators and below is the positions of the Gambia on some of the indicators in The Gambia:

 Maternal mortality ratio 11 best position in Africa, under five Mortality 19 best position in Africa, COVID-19 Response 15+ best Position and Immunization Coverage (90% one of the best in the region). We have heard of unfortunate instances where patients are told to go and buy items like gloves or even being referred to other facilities,” he said.

The minister alleged that some elements are hoarding these items to sabotage the government’s efforts in trying to give the government a bad name.