By Olimatou Coker
The UN agency for international public health, WHO, and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare Monday organised a meeting to discuss findings of the recent health sector assessment.
Speaking at the two-day convergence at a local hotel in Senegambia, Dr Ahmadou Lamin Samateh, minister of Health and Social Welfare, said the assessment will diagnose the relative strengths and weaknesses of the country’s health system.
“This process is also being complemented by the expressed intention of our development partners to assist the ministry of health accelerate the achievement of the strategies outlined in the plan toward the establishment of a responsive and functional health system,” he stated.
He said in order to enhance this process, it was agreed that there was a need for a review of the current status of the health system in order to obtain a comprehensive assessment of the development challenges.
The minister said the country’s health system is transforming at a rapid rate.
He explained: “For instance, in 1998 there were only three referral hospitals namely RVTH, Bansang and AFPRC. [Today] there is a growing expansion of the care services both public and private.”
He disclosed that the current capacities in his ministry, especially in terms of expertise and experience, have not been subjected to a comprehensive health system assessment for many years now.
“As a result, a review and assessment of the health sector will position health for greater opportunities in terms of systematic reforms, resource mobilisation and support from a wide range of stakeholders. In addition, the government through the health ministry together with partners and donors have invested significantly in medical consumables including essential medicines,” the health minister noted.
Dr Desta A Tiruneh, a WHO representative, said the Assessment was the first key collaboration between the major health partners since the new government was formed.
Dr Tiruneh said the Assessment was possible thanks to the “goodwill of development partners” who responded to government’s concerns in a bid to understand the status of the country’s health sector.
“As partnership required cooperation, negotiations and agreement, we have come a long way since 2017 to validate completed reports in four out of the six areas of the health systems building block human resources for health, health information system, health financing as well as governance and leadership of the health sector,” he noted.
He renewed the WHOs “commitment” to supporting the government of The Gambia, particularly health.
“We look forward to the ministry’s leadership to coordinate our efforts to support health plans and policies and ensure the country moves forward to achieve universal health coverage,” Dr Tiruneh said.