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Gov’t to renew RFH contract soon

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By Tabora Bojang

Health Minister Dr Ahmadou Samateh has expressed his willingness to renew the contract with Riders For Health (RFH) in the coming weeks. RFH supplies, manages and operates ambulances and other fleets of transport for the health ministry.

The outfit has been in contract with the government of The Gambia since 2002. Its contracts are subject to renewal every five years. The latest contract with the government signed in 2018 expired in June last year but negotiations for a renewal have stalled for nine months.

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Currently, some major public health facilities are without effective ambulance services to ease health care delivery.

RFH country director Theresa Drammeh told The Standard last month that her organisation intends to purchase 40 new ambulances to replace old and dilapidated fleets but that can only happen if they have a new contract with the government.

The government also owed RFH “large sums in arrears” over reimbursements for the management of fleets.

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Health Minister Samateh told parliamentarians on Wednesday that funds have been released by the Ministry of Finance for the repayment of these arrears and funds are transferred to RFH.

He said his ministry is also finalising talks for the renewal of the contract with RFH. “We are hopeful that the contract will be signed before the end of this month [March],” he disclosed.

Dr Samateh said community ambulances that are not currently under the management of RFH will be included in the new contract.

However, Minister Samateh did not inform lawmakers what led to the long delay in renewing the contract. RFH claimed to have completed its side of the bargain and also submitted its operation cost to the ministry months ago.

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