“The Gambia recorded significant progress with respect to access to education, water, and nutrition outcomes. Gains were registered in relation to school enrolment and retention, the proportion of the population with access to improved water sources, and the prevalence of underweight, wasting and stunting in children under the age of five,” UNDP chronicled in its 2019-2021 Gambia report.
“Progress has been made in tackling undernourishment, and the proportion of women attended by skilled health personnel during delivery has increased. However, serious health challenges remain – with only 33.8 % of the population currently having access to safely managed drinking water (MICS 6, 2018).”
Moreover, in the health sector, UNDP recounted an acute shortage of core health workers – only 5.17 per 10,000 population, well below the recommended 23 per 10,000 population.
“Furthermore, the distribution of core staff is unequal, with almost half the core staff stationed in West Coast Region (WCR1); which serves 38.5% of the population (HSA assessment report 2019). The same unequal distribution exists for medical personnel.”
The COVID-19 pandemic illustrated the need to strengthen the already fragile health system in The Gambia to ensure appropriate responses to COVID-19 and to treat other illnesses and diseases, according to the UN agency.
“In response, UNDP in collaboration with several UN agencies, the government, and the private sector intervened with the rehabilitation of an abandoned health clinic to increase admission bed space during the Pandemic.”
“The new Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital (EFSTH) Bakau centre provided an additional 64 beds (from the 24 initially available). The centre seeks to become a centre of excellence for Health Science studies and a specialty hospital with further expansions planned,” it detailed.