By Maimuna Sey-Jawo
The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and other stakeholders, Monday converged in Senegambia for a review of its Second Joint Annual Health Sector Review 2018, also called JAR.
The annual convergence was funded by the Unicef, and brought together health officials from various health sectors in the country.
It was organised under the theme a coordinated health system towards the achievement of universal health coverage, quality service delivery, and evidence-informed decision making.
The health and social welfare minister Dr Isatou Touray, said the meeting provides an opportunity to review progress in the sector and identify issues that need to be addressed in order to improve performance.
She said annual health sector reviews have been institutionalised now in various countries when the sector wide approach became a popular mechanism for improving donor and partners’ coordination with a view to creating an enabling environment for an efficient and responsive health system.
“It provides a common basis for understanding sector issues, priorities, finding and recommendations that emanate from the review process, which can be followed up through action plans and policy dialogue with all stakeholders,” she said.
She said the joint annual review is “always carried out in the spirit of partnership between the Ministry of Health and [Social Welfare] and stakeholders and takes an all-inclusive sector wide approach.
“JARs are usually in the context of a medium term health strategic plan where progress is monitored against the set objectives and strategies in the annual operational plan derived from the strategic plan. Our task during this meeting is to jointly measure our sector performance against the plan and identify achievement, weaknesses and action points requiring joint actions,” she said.
The minister said she was “pleased to report that among the key achievements from the last JAR recommendations are the introduction of International Competitive Bidding (ICB) for all medicines and supplies and the tabling at cabinet (of Country Compact Document to guide health partners implementation of health plans.”
She highlighted the National Health Sector Strategic Plan 2014-2020, which has a long-term objective for the health sector to provide accessible, adequate, effective, affordable and quality health care for all Gambians.
“The immediate objectives are to improve the administration and management of health services,” she noted, “[and] provide better infrastructure for referral hospitals and health facilities, extend and strengthen primary health care services to all communities with a well-motivated and trained staff, and establish an efficient procurement system to ensure effective health service delivery for all.”
Muhamadou Lamin Jaiteh, permanent secretary I at the health