By Binta S. Jawo
The Ministry of Health (MoH) received the remaining 25 new ambulances on Wednesday 23rd March 2022 at CFAO’s Westfield branch next to Gambega. During the press briefing with the media, the Minister of Health Dr Amadou Lamin Samateh reaffirmed his belief that President Adama Barrow has placed health as his topmost priority.
MOH’s Permanent Secretary 2, Mr Lamin Dampha told members of the press that the purpose of procuring the ambulances is to ease the burden of referrals, especially in rural areas and to bridge the gap in access to healthcare in the Gambia. Mr Dampha says that the community ambulances are procured 100% by the Gambian Government through the United Nations Office for Project Service (UNOPS).
The financing of the Ambulances was an issue of public interest with some critics claiming that the Ambulances were purchased by the UNOPS and that the Government was taking credit for it. Back in September 2021 Fact-Check Centre published an article that clarified that UNOPS was only responsible for the procurement process but the entire purchasing was funded by the Gambia Government.
UNOPS representative Abdallah Jammeh expressed his delight over the partnership with the MoH in procuring these ambulances. He thanks the Gambian Government for the trust and also CFAO for always being available to process the ambulances when they arrive in the country.
After the keys were handed over to the Minister of Health, Dr Ahmed Lamin Samateh told journalists that President Barrow put health as his top-most priority since he came to power. According to Health Minister Dr Samateh, President Barrow’s “government is aimed at providing healthcare at the people’s doorsteps in this regard, the government is engaging in the construction of health facilities and posts across the country”.
Minister Samateh preferred a number of examples to buttress his point including the construction of a Teaching Hospital and Emergency treatment centre in Farato with a capacity of 1,500 beds and the construction of eight Covid 19 treatment centres across the country. Also included in the list are construction works at Ndemban Health facility in Bakau, the renovation of a polyclinic in Banjul and the renovation of the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital (EFSTH) also in Banjul.
However, until today most Gambians who are suffering from simple health complications have to be referred to the country’s main Hospital, EFSTH at Banjul.
It could be recalled that President Barrow received some 20 ambulances on 13th September 2021 which was part of the procurement of 80 ambulances. Barely a month later some 25 ambulances were handed over to the Health Minister by President Barrow on 14th October 2021.