17 April 2007

Gambia: 20 Peace Corps' Volunteers Sworn-in

Dr Tamsir Mbowe, Secretary of State for Health and Social Welfare, last Friday, presided over the swearing-in of 20 American Peace Corps' volunteers at a ceremony held at the residence of the American Ambassador in Fajara.

The volunteers provide services to help the people in developing countries in meeting their need to train manpower, promote a better understanding about the Americans on the part of the people served and a better understanding of other peoples on the part of the American people.

In his keynote address, Health Secretary of State Mbowe expressed his delight to preside over the swearing-in of another 20 volunteers who will be deployed in the country's health sector.

SOS Mbowe revealed in The Gambia, morbidity and mortality rates are unacceptable high, with the majority of the health problems related to low awareness about health issues, poverty and poor environmental conditions. "Infants, children and women continue to bear the brunt of malaria, diarrhoea, acute respiratory infections, malnutrition and problems associated with pregnancy and childbirth," he said.

Dr Mbowe informed the gathering that the government of The Gambia already has a poverty reduction programme, saying "at the level of my Department of State, we are implementing a comprehensive essential health care package that integrates the management of childhood illnesses, promotes reproductive and child health, provides immunisation against serious childhood diseases, promotes exclusive breast-feeding and improved nutrition, including vigorous campaigns against malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/Aids and other diseases".

SoS Mbowe further said that the new Health and Community Development Project, is aimed at improving the health of Gambians, particularly women, children and youth.

For her part Dr Diana Sloane, Country Director, Peace Corps The Gambia, said the volunteers' challenge would lie in adjusting to physical hardships, saying the Peace Corps in its early years, emphasised outwards bound conditioning as part of their training. Dr Sloane added that trainees were often depicted on three-day wilderness treks and repelling down sheer cliffs.

The swearing in ceremony was also attended Jospeh Stafford, US Ambassador to The Gambia.

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