The Point (Banjul)

Gambia: Riders for Health Inaugurates New Centre to Boost Road Safety in Gambia

A new training centre seeking to boost road safety in the country has been opened by Riders for Health.

The centre will help in training more health workers in riding and driving and improving road safety.

The opening ceremony for the new centre, which has been funded in collaboration with the British High Commission, took place on Tuesday at Riders for Health's head office in Kanifing.

According to a media dispatch issued by Riders for Health, road safety is a huge issue in developing countries.

"According to the Make Safe Campaign, road crashes are the leading global cause of death for young people aged 10-24.

By 2015 they are predicated to be the leading cause of premature death and disability for children in developing countries aged five and above.

"The world health organization states that 90-95% of accidents is caused by driver behaviour; so one of the keys to improving road safety is through training road users.

"Rider and driver training is central to all of Riders for Health's programmes, and this new centre in The Gambia will help to build the skills of vehicle users and will contribute to improved driver and rider skills and in turn their behaviour on the road, saving lives."

Therese Drammeh, Riders for Health country director, said: "Having reliable transport is vital if health workers are to reach people in rural communities. But it is crucial that they are safe while they are on the road. That is why training is at the heart of Riders for Health's work. Road accidents are one of the biggest causes of premature deaths in Africa. This new centre will help us to improve the driving skills of people across The Gambia."

The opening ceremony was attended by the Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Bala Gaba Jahumpa, who hailed the fruitful partnership that exists between his ministry and the Riders for Health.

George Sheriff, deputy British High Commissioner, applauded the government for prioritizing health.

Present at the event were other senior government officials, as well as representatives of national and international NGOs, and the managing director of GTBank.

Also in attendance are founders Andres and Barry Coleman, as well as the senior management and Board of Directors of Riders for Health's programme in The Gambia.

The new centre contains a classroom for formal rider and drives training and will also consist of conference room and an office.

In The Gambia, Riders for Health manages the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare's national fleet of health care vehicles using its innovative full-service leasing model.

Riders for Health employs 110 drivers and 33 technicians, including seven female apprentices. These technicians manage 90 motorcycles, 36 ambulances and 27 trekking vehicles.

"This means that The Gambia is the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to be equipped with complete transportation coverage for its health services. For the first time, health workers are able to reach every village ensuring basic care is delivered to even the most rural communities," a release from Riders for Health stated.

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