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Monday, October 18, 2021

Introducing the Medical Students’ Health Corner


The School of Medicine, University of The Gambia, is the highest Gambian institution aimed at recruiting efficient, bona fide and highly skilled health care personnel. We the students of this institution and ultimately the future carriers of the health burden of The Gambia have come to realise that it is worthwhile and paramount to advocate for preventive medicine.

Chronic diseases including HIV/AIDS are the major cause of death and disability worldwide, and increasingly affect people from developing as well as developed countries. Lung diseases, diarrhea, hypertension and diabetes are among the leading causes of disability. This is due to but not limited to significant changes in dietary habits, physical inactivity, tobacco use which are all consequences of industrialization, urbanization, economic deprivation and lack of health information. A change in dietary habit, physical activity and tobacco control have a major importance in reducing the rate of these chronic diseases, often in relatively short time.

Every week at the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital (EFSTH), we have at least one woman admitted on account of anemia and /or low birth weight children. The scientific evidence is strong that a change in dietary habits and physical activities can powerfully influence several of these factors in the population. UniGamsa have come up with a capacity building programme with a vision and commitment to spare no efforts in making sure that all infants start life healthily, all young children including the poorest and most disadvantaged are nurtured in caring for the environments, to attain basic nutritional requirements so as to pave a way for the maximum participation in the society to building a better, safer, more peaceful and secured world and have dialogue with those responsible for them to uphold their responsibilities and fulfill their commitments to them for their health and well-being. 

Having a health friendly Gambia seems impossible far away, but it is as simple as doing everything in our power to keep our commitments to the most vulnerable people. These commitments are lucid and unambiguous. What are required now are the successive partnership and the understanding that a commitment is a pledge with both moral and pragmatic obligation. In a moral sense, a commitment signifies a relationship of duty and in pragmatic terms, a commitment binds those making it to a course of action.

In the past, communicable diseases were mainly responsible for a great deal of morbidity and mortality in developing countries including The Gambia. In recent years, there is a marked increase in the number of non-communicable diseases as well as communicable diseases though there are many antibiotics and vaccines available to prevent these diseases. One major factor in this problem is as a result of dietary changes and habit.

Sir William Osler once said “One of the first duties of the physician is to educate the masses not to take medicine.” As future health practitioners we strongly believe that by educating the people about preventive measures and promotion of positive behavioral change, we can successfully and significantly reduce the incidence of both communicable and non-communicable diseases. Established scientific evidence suggests that there are major health benefits in eating more fruits and vegetables, daily physical activities and maintaining the normal body weight, moving from saturated animal fats to vegetable oil and reducing the amount of fatty food to less fat and salt minimum diets

As humanity continues to push through the frontiers of knowledge and science advances further everyday- from mapping genome to comprehending the origins of the universe- could it really be possible for us to keep especially, children from dying of something as easily preventable as diarrhea? With the manner of advocacy planned we believe we can do it. We have all the capabilities to drastically cut down the disease incidence in our beloved nation. The quality, competency, commitment, and knowledge are part and parcel of our agenda of action.

It remains an undoubted fact that a significant proportion of The Gambia’s budget goes to health, mostly attempting to overcome disease conditions that are much easily preventable. For instance better lifestyle and dietary habits can reverse the steady increase seen in the incidence of most chronic and infectious diseases in The Gambia. Added to the health benefits, such achievement will as well yield dramatic financial benefits as fund can be conveniently diverted to other areas of national priority.

As an association determined to contribute its own quota towards national development and achievement of Millennium Development Goals, The University of The Gambia Medical Students Association, UniGamsa, has committed herself to reaching the population with the sole objective of disseminating basic health information in the simplest comprehensible terms. We shall take you through a range of health issues ranging from prevention to management of numerous diseases. 

While we share our thoughts with you, we humbly seek your support in helping us achieve these humanitarian goals by keenly following and adhering to our words. We are positive that results will be gotten, and lives will be saved.


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