By Binta Jaiteh
The Gambia through the Ministry of Health on Tuesday received essential health materials worth $1.5 million aimed to strengthen the health system of the country.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) with funding from the Government of Japan procured a fleet of vehicles numbered 17, 50 Motorbikes, 130 Cold boxes, and 49 Vaccines Freezers meant to complement the Government of the Gambia in its quest for quality, efficient and effective health care services delivery.
Receiving the items at Central Medical Store Kotu, Dr. Momodou Lamin Samateh, Minister of Health said The Gambia has been globally recognized to persistently achieve and maintain high routine immunization coverage through a vibrant national Immunization service that is also at the forefront in the introduction of new and underused WHO prequalified live-saving vaccines into its national immunization schedule.
He explained that these items together with the traditional EPI antigens are protecting children of the Gambia from 13 vaccine-preventable diseases. These antigens, he noted, include BCG, Poliomyelitis, Diphtheria Pertussis, Tetanus, Measles, Yellow fever, HIB, Hep B, Pneumococcal, Men A, Rota Virus, and recently HPV, and vaccines are introduced and targeted our adolescent girls between the age of 9 – 13 years beyond the usual childhood vaccine schedule.
He noted that this milestone development will prevent a very important sector of the country’s population from cervical cancer, which is a leading cause of cancer and cancer mortality among women in The Gambia.
As a resource-poor country, he continued, recovery from the damages and disruption meted on our national immunization programme and overall health care delivery systems, attempts to reverse the back sliding national immunization coverage with a short time single
handily would be extremely farfetched, if not impossible.
Therefore, he expressed that recognizing this predicament of the country, “the government of Japan took it upon themselves to support our post-COVID-19 recovery programme by providing the above equipment.”
However, these items will address almost all the recovery needs of the programme and would be used for the following: strengthen immunization service delivery at outreach facilities around the country.
H.E. Osamu Izawa, Japanese Ambassador to The Gambia said this cooperation aims at strengthening the Gambia’s capacity to address Covid-19.
Currently, “we accessing equitable access globally in developing countries such as the Gambia and accelerating vaccination with the common challenges of other international communities,” he stated.
He thanked the government of the Gambia and expressed their gratitude and happiness to the government.
Gordon Jonathan Lewis, UNICEF Representative said the government of Japan funded a US2.5 million grant to help strengthen the Gambia’s health system with the Covid-19 response this amount of US$1.5 million was spent on strategic supplies and equipment to help recover modernize and revitalize national expanded program immunization.
The objective of the donation is nothing less than to strengthen the health system and the Covid-19 response including strengthening infection prevention and control measures and enhancing the local capacity to handle and manage vaccines.
Today the ceremony includes the procurement through UNICEF-established Channels of 17 vehicles which 11 are presented, 60 motorcycles, and 130 cold boxes for a total amount of 1.5 million US dollars.
He added “We have the commitment from the Ministry of Health that the Ministry will be fully responsible for the maintenance, upkeep and the appropriate use of all the equipment and supplies being handed over.