By Dr Mariam Mbowe
It is with shock and disbelief to come across a publication in the Standard Newspaper dated 28th February 2018 with headline “Corruption hindering health sector’.
In the article it is reported that the Minister of Health Madam Saffie Lowe Ceesay at a press conference organized by the Conference and Scientific meeting of the West African College of Surgeons at the Kairaba Beach Hotel mentioned that ‘efforts in developing The Gambia health sector are held by corruption and unpatriotic Doctors’.
If corruption in the Health sector needs to be addressed, please start with your team first. What happens to the annual procurement of medications which is done centrally? Some months ago, we had to refer patients to buy fluids outside the hospital because of lapses in your administration. Get us the resources, provide training opportunities and pay attention to the welfare of your children.
It is unbelievable that the Minister is blaming the inefficiency of her ministry on innocent doctors who are working in very difficult conditions to provide services to their clients.
The services might not be of best of standards due to the fact that the ministry did not do its homework well. Madam Minister, these statements should not be coming from you as you have not provided what is called a conducive environment for the needed services to be provided.
In the same article it was also mentioned that ‘these young doctors just go and practice pharmaceutics, some of them have opened their own pharmacies with resources that we have’. What resources are you talking about when we do not even have the most basics of supplies? How can one steal something which is not available? I have seen colleagues going the extra mile to deep into their pockets so as to provide the most needed care to their clients.
Madam, do you really know the difference between doctors, nurses and pharmacists? I doubt if you even do. If a Doctor is allowed to open a pharmacy under your purview as minister of health, it is high time you vacated that position. We need people who are competent to serve us, someone who understands the medical language. We need solutions rather than the blame-game. It will just not work. We have been quiet for long and that has not helped to get things right. It is the same ministry under your leadership responsible for the numerous problems affecting the Cuban Health Team regarding their annual vacation. This problem has been occurring since the former regime and continues to affect service delivery at both the Teaching Hospital and the Medical School.
You have made mention of inheriting an ailing health system. Where you not the PS of Health in the former Government? It is your ministry that has neglected the only Teaching Hospital. The same ministry paying health care providers in the same Greater Banjul different salary scales. Health care providers have been bullied during your tenure more than that of any other minister. Stop the blame game and do the work please. In a bid to address these inaccurate reports, it is befitting to make the general public know that the ministry has failed Gambians and it is better to work towards the interest of its citizenry for a better and healthier Gambia. Please put your house in order, madam minister.
Gambians were so much looking forward to a new Gambia, health care providers included but unfortunately all our hopes have been shattered and we are going back to days worse than the past two decades as far as health is concerned.Daily, under frustrations, hardship and emotional stress we provide services to our patients. These problems diminish our proficiency as we are slowly losing passion for this noble profession. We deserve to be respected. Madam please, do not derail the efforts of people sacrificing their time, happiness and family to see to it that our nation is healthy. Please humbly withdraw those statements and apologize to your children. It will be humbling for you to resign as minister of Health as same way you have lost trust in us, it is same way we have lost trust in you.