Doctors, paramedics trained 66 Gambians on emergency care delivery


As the name suggests, it has been working on human development projects and responding to disasters such as earthquakes, storms, floods and tsunamis as well as conflicts in many parts of the world since 1994. It is in this light that Humanity First, The Gambia through Humanity First international (UK) facilitated a week-long training on basic life support, and trauma and emergency care for doctors, nurses, and other health care workers at the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital in Banjul. At the end of the training session, a closing ceremony was held for the participants at the hospital. 

Delivering a statement at the event, Dr Ammar Al-Jafari, the chief medical director said: ”Today we are here to say our appreciation and a lot of thanks to Humanity First International. This charitable foundation or organisation which decided to help the health sector in general, in The Gambia and this hospital in particular deserves immense commendation. This is a great voluntary work which supports our dreams, our aims for the development of this hospital. I cannot succeed alone. We are working as a team in the hospital. I have some ideas for the hospital; I bring some ideas from outside the Gambia, but I cannot do it alone without the sincere help and support from our team, management, and my department. And also if there is any charitable organisation like Humanity First International, it should help with medication and equipment supplies for the hospital. We can do something good for The Gambia because The Gambia needs this from all of us. I think we have now changed and the attitudes of the staff are remarkable. Everybody knows that the problem is funding, and the limited resources but we will try to manage and handle this problem. We will try to manage our own affairs but we also need help from Humanity First and all the other similar organisations”. 

Dr Ahmadou samateh, head of the surgery department said: “In March, 2013, we spoke with Humanity First officials about how to improve service delivery in this hospital. And we emphasised training. We need training because certainly to help people you really need to build capacity. You can come show us a few things, or do a few things yourself for a week and when you go back it is all lost. But if you impart the knowledge to our own people, here you leave a legacy. These people become trainers themselves. They participate in providing essential services to our people and this goes on for generations. So this is a very noble gesture. Now when you come to emergency care, it is very important. The elective cases can go and come in a week, in two weeks but the emergency needs immediate attention. Whether that patient lives or dies depends on those who see the patient first and usually they are the frontline soldiers. And that is the people at accident and emergency unit. The doctors and nurses who see these patients… if they manage them well, these patients may end up living. If they manage them poorly, these patients may die before the senior people come. So it is very important that they have this basic knowledge of the basic life support, intermediate and eventually even of advance life-support techniques. Now when these are instituted, hopefully our emergency care will be improved. Each time I see people – experts – coming from elsewhere to come here to help us, I feel very touched because these are all very responsible and busy people at very busy clinics and hospitals. They leave everything – their jobs, their families – to come and stay here, and sacrifice, and in fact a lot of times at no cost to us. They spend their own money to come and help us.” 


Dr Babucarr Sowe who is the director of medical programmes at Humanity First (Gambia) said: “The participants of this training workshop were indeed very glad to come to the closing session of this important training. Humanity First is an international charity established some 20 years ago. Its main objective is to serve humanity irrespective of belief system, origin or race. What we look at is need and that’s what we have been doing. Humanity First has been established in many countries in the world particularly in developing countries. In The Gambia, we have a number of programmes, and one of the programmes we have is medical assistance. We have been running medical clinics upcountry for the past years and last year we signed a memorandum of understanding with the EFSTH and a part of that deals with capacity building in the form of training of staff of this hospital. Our other programmes also include water for life project, provision of farming inputs, sponsorship of education, school projects, fighting hunger, and the provision of information technology. We are indeed very pleased to be doing some service in this hospital because this is the main referral centre in the country. So we thought it wise to partner with EFSTH so as to help build on the already existing capacity.”

Dr Azhar Saleem of UK Humanity First and Dr Abubacarr Jagne, head of A&E at EFSTH all made remarks during the closing session. The event was marked with presentation of certificates to all the participants of the course while outstanding ones received awards. It concluded with the handing over of medication and other medical equipment to the management of the hospital by the UK team of trainers.   


By Ousman Bojang