By Aji Fatou Faal
The National Assembly health committee Thursday began a two-day intensive capacity strengthening training on budget scrutiny of the public health delivery system held at Ocean Bay Hotel, Cape Point.
Delivering her opening statement, Shabnazz Zahereen, deputizing UNICEF Country Rep, expressed joy saying the committee is key to UNICEF’s work in the Gambia as it acts not only as an oversight body on the welfare and wellbeing of Gambian children in the context of social service delivery but also as a key agent in the enactment of laws that are geared towards the protection and promotion of the wellbeing of Gambian children.
“Government has over the years done very well in promoting the agenda of children and women and delivering key primary social service. Despite this effort, a number of areas in infant and maternal wellbeing still have room for improvement. 56% of children in the Gambia live in poverty, with infant and maternal mortality rates at 34 and 433 per 100, 000 respectively. GAM, SAM and stunting rates in children are at 10.35%, 2.25% and 22.9 respectively”, she stated.
She said considering the above figures UNICEF has intensified its intervention in ihealth, nutrition and social protection including the implantation of the BReST project which aims to address some of these issues.
For his part, the Honourable Ousman Sillah, Chairman of the Health Committee and NAM for Banjul North, said that as a committee that has multiple roles their capacities need to be strengthened so that they can effectively and efficiently perform their statutory functions prescribed by law.
“We have just completed the first phase of our oversight functions by going round the country visiting hospitals and health facilities; not all of them though but selected facilities given the constraints of time,” he said.