With Alhassan Darboe
Our failing health care system
When Barrow came to power, our healthcare was a mess after years of neglect and under-investment during the era of both Jawara and Jammeh. He has gone on to appoint two ministers of health and yet our health care system continues to be a death mill as we pay lip service to it. People are dying cheaply and avoidably. In 2011, my late father was misdiagnosed with hypertension when he actually had a liver cancer. He was given Paracetamol and some pain killers because there was no other medicine to give him. By the time we found out at a private hospital, it was too late, and he died. So many cousins and friends have gone on to die avoidably for committing the crime of giving birth or having petty sicknesses like malaria among other minor ailments.
The Gambia’s current minister of health has drawn praise for his incorruptibility, but I still think he is a failure as a minister. If The Gambia still had to send most of its serious cases to Senegal and India and maternal mortality continues to be higher than ever before, then Minister Samateh has failed terribly. Like former US president George W Bush said in a speech to NAACP at the turn of the century, The Gambia as a country suffer from “the soft bigotry of low expectations”.
In sales parlance, they say, “you get what you pay for”. Our president invested in crappy advisers and gets nothing all the time but crappy advice just like the computer metaphor, “garbage in, garbage out”.
It would have been easier for our government to upgrade all major regional health centres and even use our bilateral partnership with China and India to supply the much-needed specialists and medical equipment. Instead of being a source of medical tourism income for other countries, we could transform our country into a health tourism country in the subregion and earn decent revenue from it annually. But don’t blame Barrow and his government. It all comes down to philosophy because their government and personal philosophy is so deeply flawed that the lives of our little sisters, brothers, parents, and kidney patients don’t matter to them. Spending millions on NPP headquarters and self-perpetuation is more important to them. Pathetic if you ask me.
EU hypocrisy in The Gambia and a failing Foreign minister
First of all, I must make it very clear that this piece is neither meant to advocate for the introduction of gay rights in the Gambian constitution nor to endorse the persecution of LGBTQ community in The Gambia. The crux of my piece centres on European hypocrisy and selective care when it comes to their care towards Africans and their rights as human beings.
I found it so condescending, racist, insensitive and irrational that the same European Union that funded Libyan militias with hundreds of millions of euros to apprehend our refugee brothers at sea, detain and enslave them in a bid to keep them away from their “civilized” Europe are the same people preaching to us about human rights.
The EU is currently sponsoring a multi-million dollar operation in Libya to maltreat and keep genuine refugees away from their shores without any regard for their rights as human beings to be given refuge in accordance with the Geneva Convention on the rights of refugees and displaced persons.
According to a report by Human Rights Watch: “European Union migration cooperation with Libya is contributing to a cycle of extreme abuse. The EU is providing support to the Libyan Coast Guard to enable it to intercept migrants and asylum seekers at sea after which they take them back to Libya to arbitrary detention, where they face inhuman and degrading conditions and the risk of torture, sexual violence, extortion, and forced labour”.
Saudi Arabia beheaded 180 people in 2019 and still continues to sponsor a protracted and deadly war in Yemen. Saudi operatives butchered Jamal Khashoggi in brutal fashion and yet Europe and America never condemned any of these but will preach human rights to us as Africans. America still treats African-Americans like second class citizens and unnecessarily incarcerate thousands of them a year to make profit for private prison owners. Gambian-born US soldier Nanama Keita captured it very well in reference to the cold-blooded killing of an African-American man George Floyd in Minneapolis: “After massacring nine parishioners at a historic black church in Charleston in 2015, Dylann Roof, with a self-satisfied smirk on his face, was calmly arrested before being taken to Burger King to get food on his way to jail. Now compare that to a handcuffed black man being pinned down by his neck as he helplessly pleads for his life, and all for a nonviolent crime. And just like how Eric Garner was choked to death for selling loose cigarette in New York, he too would die just like that.”
Again, it all comes down to philosophy because our president and the minister of foreign affairs have no personal and diplomatic philosophy that calls for respect for the domestic laws, culture, and values of our country. They have no philosophy that rises above subjugation and receiving handouts from EU. The EU representative in The Gambia would have been summoned by a serious government but our incompetent government cannot speak up against this invasion and disrespect for our values and culture by an insensitive foreign diplomat in the middle of the holy month of Ramadan.
Alhassan Darboe is a Gambian communication scholar, consultant, and real Estate businessman. He writes from his base in US. He is currently a graduate student at Arizona State University’s Hugh Down School of Human Communication.