Gambia: Rotary Club of Faraja, Partners Boost the Health Sector

The Rotary Club of Fajara in partnership with a Swiss couple, Dr. Theo Keller and his wife Mathilder Keller, on Thursday, November 22nd, 2012 boosted the country's health sector with a major donation of medical equipment worth US$35, 000 to the Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital (RVTH) in Banjul, and the Bansang Hospital in the Central River Region (CRR).

The RVTH received US$18, 000 worth of equipment, whilst Bansang got US$17,000 worth of medical equipment. The donation included four life-monitoring equipment earmarked for the RVTH's Intensive Care Unit, as well as others for the Ear, Nose, Throat Department of the RVTH.

The handing over ceremony, which was held at the board room of the RVTH was witnessed by the chief nursing officer, who represented the Ministry of Health, the acting chief medical director of the hospital, members of the Rotary Club of Fajara, Dr. Bittaye, who recently graduated from Ghana, Penda Sidibeh of Physiotherapy Department, as well as other senior staff of the hospital.

The donors, Dr Theo and Mathilder Keller over the years have contributed significantly towards the health sector of the Gambia amounting to over US$1.8M worth of medical equipment to the health sector of the country.

Speaking at the ceremony, the acting chief medical director of the RVTH, Prof. Mustapha Kahalili, said the equipment came at the right time and at the right place. He said the equipment will improve the health sector, especially the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital, and promised that they would be well taken care of and put into good use.

The president of the Rotary Club of Fajara, Foday Sillah, for his part, who doubles as the initiator of the project, explained to the gathering that their motivation for the project is anchored on the fact that despite government is doing its best to reduce maternal mortality rate; it is still high and that he wanted Rotary through its longstanding partnership with the Kellers to once again assist the main hospital in the country.

According to him, he knew that the ENT Department also needs assistance, noting that all these are the contributing factors for the Rotary Club of Fajara to come up with this project. Sillah informed the gathering that when he became president of the Rotary Club of Fajara, health has been one of his major priority areas in that it is key in both the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the country's Vision 2020 blueprint.

He further said the project was not imposed on RVTH, but was done in consultation with the hospital officials and the Ministry of Health. Sillah acknowledged the contribution of the former minister of Health and Social Welfare, Fatim Badjie and her former permanent secretary, Dr Mackie Taal; as well as the then CMD of the hospital, Fatou Nyabally and Mr. Yarbo all of RVTH,for their support in making the project a success. He finally thanked the members of Rotary Club of Fajara for their support and Dr Theo & Mathilder Keller for once again assisting the hospital.

The chief nursing officer, Margaret Gomez, for her part, said RVTH is the main hospital and that it was a wise decision to choose it for such a wonderful donation. She said the equipment would go a long way in helping the hospital.

Similar sentiments were echoed by Dr. Samateh of the Surgery Unit, Dr Ramos of ICU and Fatou Nyabally, who all stated that they have been receiving help but this kind of support was exceptional.

Speaking on behalf of the sponsors, Mathilder Keller, said that they have been supporting the health sector of The Gambia since they started coming to the country for the past 13 years, noting that they have consecutively supported RVTH and Bansang for the past four years.

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