By Edrissa Jallow
At least five family members of the children that died from Acute Kidney Injury (AKI) confronted the Health Minister Hon Ahamdou Lamin Samateh outside Parliament on Wednesday 26th October 2022 expressing their heartfelt disappointment on the failure of his ministry to protect over 70 children from contaminated drugs.
Waiting for the Minister outside Parliament just after he delivered a speech at the Third Extraordinary session for the 2022 Legislative Year, bereaved family members faced the Health Minister who in return attempted to console them.
The quick encounter was captured by our Gainako reporter who managed to capture a picture of the moment bereaved family members confronted the Health Minister.
One man who seemed to know the Minister started explaining his disappointment that his son passed away. Still mourning his son visibly in tears the man started making his way towards the exits prompting the Minister to call him back by his name Kamaso. The Health Minister proceeded to hold his hand, consoling him for his loss. The bereaved man still in shock went to the exit and returned twice.
Health Minister, Dr Samateh called Kamaso who duly returned and he sympathized with him and other victims in Mandinka, saying “sorry for your loss, it is our shared loss”.
Eventually, other bereaved family members and the Minister managed to calm him down and console him.
Another bereaved man who also spoke in Mandinka to the Minister complained about the charges levied on him at the health facilities. He put it to the Minister that he was ordered to pay D3,000 for an injection which he paid and another D500 to pay for medicines at the Pharmacies.
Bereaved family members poured out their pain of losing their children, some tried to explain to the Health Minister the poor level of service delivery by medical practitioners attending to patients at numerous health facilities.
During the Health Minister’s speech in Parliament, he paid condolences to the bereaved families and the Speaker of the House held a minute’s silence for all the children killed by the avoidable AKI.
Minister Samateh’s speech highlighted that his Ministry and the government by extension “would like to extend [its] condolences to all the families affected and pray that Allah grants all the departed children Al Jannatul Firdaus, amen. This period has been difficult for the families of the children, and we pray that Allah grants them the fortitude to bear their loss”.
MoFEA Allocates One Million to Visit Bereaved AKI Family Members
Meanwhile, a leaked letter dated 20th October 2022, from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs (MoFEA) has revealed that a cash amount of One Million Dalasis (D1,000,000) has been sent to the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare to “lead a government condolence team to visit the Families of the AKI Victims”.
According to the letter, “the allocation has been released as Development through Epicor Reference Number 22CA37900”. The letter further reveals that the Office of the President instructed in a letter dated 20th October 2022 for the allocation of funds to be made.
Speaking at a Ministry of Health press conference on AKI held in early October, the Health Minister told members of the media that “his Excellency has put up a high-powered delegation who will be meeting with them. Who would pay a condolence visit and update them on the steps government is taking”.
The Office of the President issued a statement on social media in early October highlighting the visit. The press release noted that “the President has assigned a high-powered delegation to meet the families affected by the AKI death cases, express his government’s condolences, and share their grief in these difficult times”.
The statement added that “President Adama Barrow reassures the families and the public of his government’s commitment to do all it can to get to the bottom of the AKI death cases and possible remedies to avoid its recurrence”.