According to overseeing officials, the US$8.68million World Bank-sponsored project will address nutrition and health needs of women and children and accelerate the government’s drive to attain Millennium Development Goals.
The project is expected to cover a population of about 600,000 including 360,000 women and children in three of the seven health regions (North Bank West, Central and Upper River Regions) and will reach about 400 communities.
At the launching event attended by four cabinet ministers, senior government officials, officials from the United Nations system and the World Bank, the health minister said: “This is a very important day that marks an important event in the history of the health sector in its drive to achieving the mission to provide quality health service to the people. I am very much delighted to be associated with this very important milestone and I hope everybody in this hall is sharing the same feelings.
“The health sector despite remarkable achievements registered since 1979, is still facing a number of challenges such as: high population growth rate, increasing morbidity and mortality, high rates of malnutrition especially among children, insufficient financial and logistic support, deterioration of physical infrastructure, inadequacies of supplies and equipment, shortage of adequately and appropriately trained health staff, high attrition rate as well as inadequate referral system. Poverty and ignorance have led to inappropriate health seeking behaviours thus contributing to ill health. Despite those challenges, some improvements has been registered in the area of maternal and child health and nutrition.”
Minister Sey added: “It is of paramount importance that the project interventions will focus on strengthening community structures and the PHC system to enhance the quality and quantity of services by empowering individual women, communities and front line health workers to improve uptake, participation, caring practices and accountability for maternal and child nutrition and health outcomes. Importantly the MCNHRP intervention is innovative by combining both demand and supply sides interventions in a coherent Results Based Financing (RBF) approach.”
Dr Rifat Hassan, health specialist, World Bank Washington DC office also noted: “We know from surveys and reports that the health and nutrition situation in The Gambia has not kept up with developments in other sectors in this country. Many outcomes on the health and nutrition of women and children have either stagnated or even deteriorated over the past decade. Imagine! That is ten years of gradual erosion of many of the achievements. The government of The Gambia and the bank started to discuss the challenges in the health and nutrition sectors as far back as 2012. At that time, the government and the bank were partnering in the nutrition sector through the Rapid Response Nutrition Security Improvement Project, implemented by the National Nutrition Agency.”
Lamin Nyabally, permanent secretary, Office of the Vice President, and Mr Modou Cheyassin Phall, executive director of National Nutrition Agency (NaNA) whose office is implementing the project alongside the Ministry of Health both spoke at length on the significance of the new project saying it will contribute immensely towards the socio-economic wellbeing of women and children in The Gambia.
Both men thanked the World Bank for providing funding saying The Gambia has made significant strides in maternal health.]]>