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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

SoS: The need to help Tanka Tanka Psychiatric Hospital



With a lowly conservative figure of about 27,000 people in The Gambia requiring urgent mental treatment, strengthening and enlarging Tanka Tanka which can only house about 100 patients at a time,   should be a key priority of the government, NGOS and individuals. 


So, it was very gratifying to note the salutary efforts of Mr Baboucarr Cham and his National Stakeholders Council for Mental Health and especially that of Trust Bank for the financial and material support being given to the hospital. Trust Bank’s involvement in the health sector – at the sanatorium, Tanka Tanka and the national blood transfusion services – as so succinctly highlighted by Health minister Dr Omar sey is very commendable and the bank’s head Pa Macoumba Njie and his staff as well as the shareholders and customers of the ‘blue bank’ derserve all the kudos.


But it should not be seen as a Trust Bank show.  As the bank’s senior marketing manager Dodou Nyang whose efforts have been singled out, rightly pointed out, his bank cannot do it all alone. What they wanted more than anything else is to draw public attention to the urgent need to help the Tanka Tanka Hospital.  Anna Bouman and her Tanka Tanka Foundation had to raise the princely sum of 500,000 Euros, mainly in Europe, to build the hospital.  More funds will have to be raised for the upkeep and the improvement of the facilities and the building of an annexe as a rehab. This is imperative since about 80 percent of mental illness in this country is caused by substance abuse by young men.


Tanka Tanka is under the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital and the staff at the mental hospital have praised Dr Al Jaffar, the chief medical officer for his timely intervention to their oft-plaintive cries. But for the right results to be achieved, the hospital needs the support of all stakeholders. With the influx of all types of dangerous drugs in our land, the challenge has become greater on us all, because with such substances pervading our societies, it becomes only true that the mental health problems will be on the increase. 


A society that is not bent on creating an enabling environment for its inhabitants who suffer from deficiencies of any kind, is really a society that is at best apocalyptic and self-destructive. For we are all vulnerable and weak, and need the support of each other. Tanka Tanka is here for exactly this reason.


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