During a press conference held at the Ministry of Health on Saturday, Minister Dr. Ahmadou Lamin Samateh confirmed additional deaths of three children due to the Acute Kidney Injury (AKI) outbreak, making the total at 69.
He also blamed the World Health Organisation for announcing the number of deaths before the government. He, however, said that despite some people calling for his resignation, there are others calling for him not to resign.
Minister Samateh revealed that some people don’t like him because he is fighting corruption at the Ministry of Health, saying he has sealed so many corruption holes at the ministry.
In a different statement regarding the AKI outbreak, the minister stated that “as we speak, investigations are continuing because we need to put all things together and come up with our conclusions as to what led to the death of the children. We have to know whether these are drugs or diseases because the children were sick before the drugs. Everything will be investigated carefully and we will get to the root of this matter.”
Samateh extended his condolences to the bereaved families, adding that his family is also affected because he also lost his own nephew. He said everyone is a victim of malpractice from manufacturers. As a country, he continues, we don’t have all the resources, personnel, and a drug testing laboratory.
“Many developing countries like The Gambia don’t have the capacity. Those gaps are there and we inherited them. As we are on nation-building, we are working hard and talking to partners to help us strengthen our quality assurance system for drugs and even foods.”
He confirmed that World Bank has given indication that they want to build a food and drug testing laboratory for The Gambia. Since this happened, he said, they have been asking for help from partners but it’s difficult.
“We will strengthen the regulatory framework because we inherited some laws regarding the importation of medicines. We want to work together and amend some of those laws to allow us to monitor drugs.”
“We have been told that where the drugs came from, India, the government has started taking actions against the manufacturers.”