Workers at the frontline to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in The Gambia have been applauded by the National Assembly Select Committee on Health at an oversight engagement with the Minister of Health and members of the National Health Emergency Committee on Thursday, 28 May, 2020.
As part of the ongoing oversight engagements in exercise of its mandate on health and related issues, this meeting with the policy makers at the health ministry was said to be the culmination of earlier visits made by the members of the Health Committee to facilities that are designated to respond to the Covid-19 disease.
“Before we proceed, the members of the Select Committee on Health would want this meeting to observe a minute of silence to pay tribute to those men and women at the frontline who are serving as a buffer between the population and the Covid-19 disease. These includes those in quarantine, testing, treatment, surveillance, communication, psycho-social, security, ancillary support, media and the administration at the level of the ministry. We wish to acknowledge your tremendous sacrifice for the people and country. I want to assure of our support at all times and also to continue giving this good service to your nation,” said Hon. Ousman Sillah, Chairperson of the Select Committee on Health.
The Chair indicated that the meeting was convened for the Minister of Health and officials of the ministry to update the Committee on state of implementation of the recommendations in its report on the state of preparedness of the country to Covid-19 which was adopted by the National Assembly plenary and the current state of national response to the pandemic. These updates, he said, the provision of a detail work plan and programme of activities with the costs relating to the handling of the Covid 19 pandemic in The Gambia, income and expenditure reports, list of isolation facilities and the rationale for their selection, assessment and situational reports at the national and international levels, among other important issues.
In his opening address, Hon. Dr. Ahmadou Lamin Samateh, Minister of Health, commended the Committee for its regular engagement with the Ministry which has guiding them in their work.
“The regular meetings and recommendations of the Health Select Committee, which we have been implementing, are very useful and have produced positive results,” said Hon. Samateh.
The Health Minister said the Gambia is doing very well in the management of cases and deaths, as it has the lowest number in West Africa and the fourth lowest in Africa. He added that despite this comparatively positive picture, the country should not be complacent and has to be vigilant in curbing and breaking the chain of transmission of the Covid-19 disease.
“As we speak, The Gambia has so far registered 25 cases, one death, 19 discharged and 5 active who under treatment,” said the health minister.
He also commended the frontline workers and urged for more collective efforts from all stakeholders to defeat the disease in the country.
The health minister highlighted some of the challenges they are contending with at the level of the ministry and added “they are all noted and will be improved upon”.
He also lamented the weak level of enforcement and compliance to the regulations and invited the support of the Health Committee in that regard.
The members of the Health Select Committee and the Subject Matter Specialists (SMS) engaged the health ministry officials on questions, answers and comments, following presentations on Covid Response Plan, Risk communication and community engagement, Laboratories, Case Management, Quarantine, logistics and systems and finances, made by Dr. Mustapha Bittaye, Acting Director of Health Services, Mr. Modou Njai, Director of Health Information, Dr. Buba Manjang, Acting Director of Public Health Services, Dr. Roberts, Deputy Chief Medical Director of the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital (EFSTH), Mr. Babanding Sabally, Director of Pharmacy Services and Mr. Muhamed Lamin Jaiteh, Permanent Secretary.