By Oumie Mendy
The Ministry of Health and its partners on Monday converge at Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara Conference Centre to discuss and review progress and challenges of the country’s health sector with specific focus on last year.
The annual review is a key component of the reform agenda proposed by the UHC2030 International Health Partnership Compact.
Minister of Health Ahmadou Lamin Samateh said the Joint Annual Health Sector review started in 2017 as a mechanism to improve coordination to enhance the sector’s performance.
“Over the years, it has evolved to become a tool for mutual accountability and transparency for both Government and Development Partners to ensure efficient and cost-effective use of resources to maximize benefits for the Gambian population,” Minister Samateh said.
The overall aim of conducting the review, Minister Samateh added, is to assess performance, improve implementation, and inform policymakers.
“The 2021 review aims to improve mutual accountability between government, partners and all relevant stakeholders and identify bottlenecks hindering quality service delivery and to enhance evidence-based decision-making,” he said.
Dr Samateh said the review findings will also enhance sector policy dialogue and consequently the realignment of plans and policies to attain Universal Health Coverage by 2030.
“Despite some challenges faced by the health sector such as population growth, covid-19, emerging and re-emerging diseases – the health sector was able to record achievements in the period like the successful completion and inauguration of the newly constructed Healthcare Waste Treatment Plan,” he said.
He said the establishment of post-graduation training for medical doctors and new programs at the University of the Gambia and provision of Community Ambulance services is also a welcome development.
Dr Desta Tiruneh, WHO representative to The Gambia said the Gambia, like most of the world, has gone through challenging times in 2021.
“However, we have collectively been able to reverse the forecasted devastating impacts of COVID-19 on the day-to-day life of Gambians and the economy. This review will help to identify whether the plan is on track and the strategies are adequate to achieve the intended results of the health strategic plan, or whether further actions are needed,” Dr Desta said.
He said the United Nation has also worked very closely with the government and other development partners. “We have been able to support the acquisition of Covid vaccines and the rollout. We have been supporting the coordination of the emergency response, strengthened point of entry surveillance, and trained health and social workers to up-skill them in the fight against COVID-19 and other disease conditions,” he said.
Dr Desta added that the UN’s collaboration with the Gambia Government and other partners has contributed to a successful rollout of essential services such as treatment of children with severe malnutrition; a 24% growth in Couple Years Protection, successful OPV vaccination; mass treatment for schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted infections.
“We have also succeeded in providing support for health system strengthening. This includes our support for the production of the National Health Policy & Strategic Plan, NHIS (National Health Insurance Scheme) bill, and other documents,” he added.
Through support from the UN, he added, Gambia benefitted from essential medicines, Oxygen Plant and reffubishment of hospitals such as the Serekunda hospital.
“Over 300,000 Gambians were reached through improved access to drinking water while supporting the government’s effort to create a healthy environment,” he noted.
The PS at the ministry of health hoped that the fruit of all of the efforts will eventually and in a very near future deliver the country to meeting full Universal Health Coverage for our population and beyond.