By Alagie Manneh
The Gambia Government will establish a national committee to investigate every death that happens in both public and private health centres to ensure health care providers did their best before a patient died, health minister Dr Lamin Samateh said Monday.
Delivering a speech at an induction ceremony for 21 newly-qualified Gambian medical practitioners, Dr Samateh said the objective of the new committee – National Mortality and Mobidity Committee – is not to witch-hunt doctors and nurses at our hospitals, rather, it is to ensure the Gambian people are never again subjected to “mediocre services”.
“They are going to monitor what happens in each and every health centre in this country, both public and private and they are going to monitor how our health care personnel work to make sure that we are giving people the optimal services they deserve,” Dr Samateh told a gathering at the Pencha Mi hall at Paradise Suits Hotel.
He rushed to debunk talks that the development is only coming in the wake of a rallying cry by Gambians and other activists who have demanded better health care services and stop avoidable deaths in our hospitals.
“We have to do our best. Yes, we cannot save all the lives but we have to do what is humanly possible based on the current medical knowledge and practice for each and every patient before the patient dies. If we didn’t do what was expected of us, the committee is going to pick it up and the doctor or the health care provider’s name and details will happily be sent to the Council for further action,” the former CMD of the EFSTH said.
He said human life is very valuable, and condemned the situation in most health facilities as unacceptable.
“We cannot do what used to happen here and behave as if nothing is happening. That means it is no longer going to be accepted that patients go to a hospital and call for the doctor and the doctor is nowhere to be found,” the health minister warned.
He also announced the formation of a health services monitoring committee.
Giving an anecdote, he said: “The health services monitoring committee is going to be inaugurated very soon and is going to be a mainly independent body that is going to be assessing the services that we provide in this country. We cannot be providing mediocre services to our people. Our people deserve the best. This committee is going to be there so that people [doctors and nurses] know they have to be working hard and working within the limits and providing standard care for our people.”
In The Gambia, maternal mortality ratio is 433 per 100,000 live births, and accounts for 36 per cent of all deaths among women aged between 15 and 49 years old, according to the demographic and health survey 2013.
According to Unicef, these statistics are compounded by a weak health sector, due to insufficient financial and logistical support, a deteriorating physical infrastructure, lack of supplies and equipment, shortages of adequately and appropriately trained health personnel, high attrition rates, and an inadequate referral system.