By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT
Two new deaths have occurred in 2023 from Acute Kidney Injury (AKI) increasing the number of children dead from 70 in 2022 to 72 by 22nd March 2023. Health Minister Hon Dr Lamin Samateh made an appearance to respond to Parliament’s AKI Report approved with amendments in December 2022.
During the Health Minister’s submission, the Member for Janjanbureh Hon Omar Jammeh asked a question on the death of two more children in January and March 2023. However, Deputy Speaker Hon Seedy S. K. Njie who was the acting Speaker of the day interjected to stop the Health Minister from providing an update on the latest AKI deaths.
Since the turn of the year the Ministry of Health has resulted to publishing one-page situation reports on their social media pages without much additional information. The latest report indicates that 12 children were discharged while 72 children died making a mortality rate of 85.7%.
At the beginning of the AKI Outbreak, the Ministry of Health published detailed situation reports featuring a number of pages detailing the actual situation. For now, only one-page reports have been published on the AKI situation. This was an opportunity for the public and parliament to know more about the latest AKI death.
Hon Jammeh first asked Health Minister Samateh to update the Assembly on “the state of the surviving children that the Ministry was following up with?” His second question requested for the Minister to deliberate “on two other [AKI] cases and if it is true kindly buttress on it?”
Responding to the first question Health Minister Samateh noted that “the surviving children are still being followed up. They’ve been going to the health facilities to be seen at [the] Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital and the Medical Research Council”.
Referring to the Chairperson of the AKI Victims Family member Minister Samateh explained that “there is a coordinator, Mr Sagnia who is in touch with all of us and the Director for health services and he’s equally in touch with the families of the surviving children and the other families of the deceased children and he facilitates each time they are to go for treatment or for follow up”.
According to Minister Samateh Mr Sagnia also “has access to [me as well] he calls me and we communicate and I myself follow up their welfare with regards to treatment”. The Health Minister also noted that “the member for Banjul North — has also been quite active, we all communicate to follow up [on] the issue of the surviving children”.
After answering the first question Health Minister Samateh asked for a reminder of the second question and the acting Speaker gave the member for Janjanbureh the floor to repeat his question which he did.
Towards the end of repeating his second question acting Speaker Seedy Njie interjected to ask Hon Jammeh “is that part of the Minister’s statement?” Hon Jammeh responded to point out response 26 on the Health Minister’s speech which touches on “the survival of some children that the Ministry was following up with as such I definitely think it’s important to link my question to his response.”
Refusing to allow the Minister of Health to provide a more detailed update on the recent deaths acting Speaker Njie argued “no that one is not part of the Minister’s statement. Sorry about that”.
Determined to get his question answered Hon Jammeh argued that “looking at his response he talked about children that actually survived from the AKI and also looking at the situational report of Minister of Health it is clearly reported that there are two new cases that have been reported so why can’t he really give us a response as a Parliament?”
Not willing to concede acting Speaker Njie ruled “no, no, no that’s not part of his statement” and proceeded to give the Member for Banjul Central the floor. At that moment the member for Central Badibu, Hon Sulayman Saho tried to argue that the acting Speaker should allow the question to continue but the acting Speaker overruled him to allow Banjul Central to take the floor first.
After the member for Banjul Central’s question was answered acting Speaker Njie gave Hon Saho the floor who raised a point of order citing “Point of Order 48, clause six” which allows questions to be asked after an hour and gives the Speaker the discretion to decide questions which may or may not be answered.
Hon Saho argued that “the Hon member of Janjanbureh asked was the two AKI cases that were reported. So he asked the Minister to make clarification on that, it’s connected to 26 of the statement” which recommends for the government to provide compensation to the family members of the victims.
“So, he wants the Minister to tell the House whether that two is part of it or not?” said Hon Saho. To which acting Speaker Njie responded, “no Hon member you are wrong”. This drew a half-hearted response from Hon Saho who asked “am wrong? Am out of order but am not wrong”.
After denying the Minister the chance to detail more information on the latest AKI deaths acting Speaker Njie proceeded to give the member for Foni Bintang the floor to ask his question.