Minister Samateh: World Bank to Build Infectious Treatment Center in the Gambia


By: Kebba AF Touray

The Gambia’s Health Minister, Dr. Ahmadou Lamin Samateh, has informed the country’s Lawmakers that the World Bank is going to build a brand new state of the earth infectious disease treatment center in the Gambia within a short period.

Minister Samateh made this disclosure on Friday at the National Assembly while responding to the concerns stressed by lawmakers during the debate on the extension of the state of public emergency in the Gambia, effective 3rd April 2020.

He said: “The issue of COVID-19 is not an easy task, it is unprecedented, and we have never seen it before even in most of the developed countries. It has an impact on the lives of the people on the social fabric, humanity, finances, the way we live and the way we interact. This is how complex COVID-19 is”.

He urged for judicious use of the ‘grace period’ and added that the country needs to swiftly act decisively and make positive decisions, as well as making and implementing right decision at the right time.

He said: “We have had four positive cases so far, one death, two patients recovered and one is undergoing a stable treatment at the government’s treatment center at the Sanatorium”.

“By way of statistics, we now have 88 people under quarantine, 162 completed quarantine, 310 individuals completed follow up, 233 contacts were traced, total of tests conducted 228( out of which 4 positive), 123 were negative and 1 inconclusive test that have to be repeated soon”.

Samateh told lawmakers that since the inception and the declaration of COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of effort has been done, as such he thanked Deputies for the sensitization campaigns they have conducted in their respective constituencies, which he described as the unique nature in which The Gambia is responding to COVID-19,

He said these campaigns by the Members of the National Assembly in their constituencies, has not been the practice in other countries, but the countries are emulating that strategy from The Gambia.

He also thanked the National Assembly Select Committee on Health for the hard work it has been doing, adding the committee has been with them throughout coordinating their activities.

He apologized for the logistic delay for the MPs to sensitize their electorate, due to the procurement procedures that he said must be followed, while noting the inadequacies in allocating Deputies was due to fact that the Ministry did not know the number of villages in their various constituencies.

Knowing the number of villages in the constituencies, Samateh said, would have helped them determined the number of items that should have been given to each lawmaker.

He said currently they have one testing center and that is at the MRC Gambia facility. The reason for that, is that the MRC is renowned and well-established research center, wherein even in the developed countries, quite number of their testing is done in the research centers, because that is their work and that is what they do, he added.

He added: “Without MRC Gambia, the testing would have been done in the Pasture Institute in Senegal, which is a Regional Reference Lab. Still some samples are taken for quality control, and when we do test, a third or fifth test is sent to the institute to ascertain that the tests we conduct are up to standards.”

He said the Ministry has started an assessment of the Kotu Lab to get the center ready where they can be doing their tests and that they have identified 3 other centers where they would conduct test in the country.

He said: “There are 10 isolation centers, some of them are okay, some other are going to undergo renovation very soon, the assessment has been done and we are working on that. The treatment centers are two for now, 2 rooms at the MRC and 42 treatment beds at the Sanatorium. We are also working on other treatment centers across the country”.