By Nelson Manneh
The National Assembly Select Committee on Health, Women, Children, Disaster, Humanitarian Relief and Refugees, on Wednesday March 4th 2020, visited the main Isolation Centre in Banjul and the Amdalai border, in the wake of the corona virus scare. The Isolation Center in Banjul was established by the Health Authorities to isolate and keep people who may be infected with the virus.
The virus which has so far claimed the lives of many people in other parts of the world, has prompted the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital, to prepare an Isolation Center where suspected victims of the disease are admitted.
Ousman Sillah, the Chairperson of the National Assembly Select Committee said they had a meeting with the Minister of Health and engaged him on the country’s state of preparedness to tackle the virus.
‘‘We are moving round to see what is actually in place and the state of preparedness of the hospital. If a case is referred to the hospital here, we want to know the measures put in place to tackle it,’’ he said.
Chairperson Sillah said cases of the coronavirus have been reported in Senegal which shows that the Gambia is no longer save.
Charles A. Roberts, the Deputy Chief of Medical Director in Banjul said a lot has been done at the hospital in Banjul in preparation for any eventuality; that they have formed a committee at the Hospital that will be responsible for tackling the virus.
‘‘We have made sure that in each Hospital, there is a special isolation room where suspects can be temporally kept before being transferred to the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital in Banjul, where proper checkups will be made on them,’’ he said.
Dr. Roberts said any suspect who is brought to Banjul, they will take his/her blood samples to the Medical Research Council(MRI), where a final checkup will be made; that if samples are found to be positive, the suspects will be transferred to the main Isolation Center in Banjul.
Dr. Abdoulie Bojang took the members of the Committee on a tour of the isolation centre which is located outside Banjul.
According to Dr. Bojang, all the entrances of the hospital will have sanitizer tanks for hand washing so that all those visiting the Hospital and going out can wash their hands; that the health authorities have put in place the necessary equipment at the main isolation centre.
A member of the Committee and National Assembly Member for Foni Kansala Constituency Musa Amul Nyassi, said by looking at what is put in place at the main isolation centre in Banjul, it shows that the health fraternity has done a lot in making sure that they are prepared for any suspect or victim.
“There is no fund allocated for such emergencies. We will make sure that we advocate for such in our next budget session,” Nyassi said. The Member for Foni Kansala urged the health officers to be vigilant and to protect themselves as they are the first people who will come into contact with any referred case if there is any.
In a similar development, the Lawmakers visited the border village of Amdalai and other entry points of the country to see and get firsthand information regarding their state of preparedness and the prevention measures they have put in place to prevent the coronavirus from entering into the country.
Momodou Sonko, the Public Health Officer stationed at Amdalai said he is working together with Senegalese officers at the border village of Karang to make sure that the virus is contained.
“All passengers who come from our neighboring country will first wash their hands and be tested before they have any encounter with Police Officers,” he said. Sonko said they have not come across any suspect yet, but an Isolation room has already been erected to that effect where any suspect they come across, will be temporally kept before he or she will be transferred to Banjul; that at the Senegalese border, an ambulance has been stationed for any eventuality, which they do not have at Amdalai. Sonko said the main challenge they face at Amdalai is that passengers try to escape and enter shops situated around their premises and are not tested.
“I am the only health officer deployed in Amdalai and I find it very difficult because I do all the health work alone,” he said.
Assistant Superintendent Dawda Jobe, the Station Officer at the Amdalai Police Post said they work together with the Public Health Officer deployed there to make sure that passengers are first tested by the Health Officer before they interact with them; that what the Lawmakers are doing shows the concern they have for the country and her citizens.
Superintendent Jobe said they patrol border villages to see those people who enter the country without passing through the main legal border entry points.