By Momodou Darboe
The entire North Bank and Lower River health region is currently struggling with only one ambulance for Covid-19 patients, reports said.
The health region is also without a treatment centre, raising public fears and concerns in the event of an explosion in Covid-19 cases there.
According to reports, efforts to prevent the spread of the virus in the countryside are increasingly being complicated by factors such as Covid-19 denial, poverty, illiteracy amongst others.
However, there are also no shortage of criticisms against the government for, what many say, is its half-hearted Covid-19 control strategies.
“Both North Bank and Lower River regions are sharing one ambulance for suspected Covid-19 cases,” lamented one of our interlocutors.
“The NBR/LRR health region is also without a treatment centre and we are not sure whether the government is aware of this,” said another.
Dr Mustapha Bittaye, the acting director of health services at the Ministry of Health, on Sunday told The Standard that Covid-19 custom-built ambulances were not adequate in the country and the ministry had to consequently share them in various health regions of the country.
He added that though the deployment of Covid-19 ambulances is demand-driven, the government, cognizant of the fact that inadequacies of ambulances could roll back its containment efforts, had recently procured Coronavirus tailor-made ambulances to reinforce its capacity.
“Specific ambulances for Covid-19 were not adequate and we have to share them across the country,” Dr. Bittaye explained. “But we are aware that this can impact negatively on our fight against the virus and that’s why we brought in other ambulances one week or two ago.”
He said the current preoccupation of the health ministry in the countryside is prevention as urban Gambia continues to be the centre of contagion.
“Right now, we have to do more prevention [in the countryside] and ensure each area gets the right intervention,” added Dr. Bittaye.
He revealed that the ministry is also making plans to have treatment centres in rural Gambia.
“We don’t have to wait until the cases are there,” he concluded.