Riders for Health-the Gambia (RFH) and the British High Commission Office in Banjul have co-financed the establishment a Training-cum Resource Centre which was inaugurated at a ceremony held at the RFH Headquarters in Kanifing on Tuesday, 15 January 2013. The new training centre, which is situated at the RFH grounds, will serve as a classroom for the formal training of drivers, riders and technicians as well as a documentation centre for road traffic matters in the country.
In his welcoming remark, the chair of the occasion, Mr. Alhagi Nyangado said this initiative is meant to help in the maintenance and increase of the life span of the vehicles under the charge of RFH. He noted that having a vehicle is one thing but maintaining it is another and as such to have in place initiatives of this nature will greatly help to in reducing the monies to be spent in buying new vehicles.
He also noted the difficulties of managing vehicles in the Third World countries including the Gambia due to the road conditions. He said the new training centre will help train more health workers in riding and driving and improve road safety.
The Riders for Health Chief Executive Officer, Andrea Coleman, speaking on the occasion, said the most important objective of the organization is to help the most vulnerable that is the women and children by ensuring that they have access to all the required treatment to hospital anytime necessary. She described her job in the UK as to facilitate and support partnership between Riders for Health the Gambia and UK. She said the riders for health the Gambia has been contributing their quota effectively, adding that the inauguration of the centre will help to improved both the quality of the transportation network and the service delivery system to the most vulnerable people.
Madam Coleman also commended the British High Commission for their collaboration and co-financing the most important a sector of any country.
The Riders Executive Director, Mr. Barry Coleman, said RFH was established since 1989 to help assist the health sector. He said when they first came to The Gambia and saw a lot of broken down vehicles it became a cause for concerned for them. He said this was the main reason why they established RFH in the Gambia. He thanked the management and staff for their commitment.
For her part, Riders for Health County Director, Therese Drammeh 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 the biggest causes of premature death in Africa. This new centre will help us to improve the driving skills of people from across the Gambia.'
In his statement, Mr. Bala Garba Jajumpa, the Minister of Health and Social Welfare, said since its inception RFH has been improving the maintenance and the service delivery system of the health sector and particular in rural Gambia.
He said the RFH has been helping the health sector to overcome difficulties in getting access to remote areas by facilitating their mobility.
He also spoke about the need for public and private sectors partnership to complement and strengthen the efforts of RFH and the Ministry of Health.
It was also noted that the Gambia is the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to be equipped with complete transportation coverage for its health service and that for the first time, health workers are able to reach every village ensuring basic health care is delivered to even the most rural communities.
The opening ceremony was attended by senior officials of the Health Ministry and the government, as well as representatives of national and international NGOs, representatives of the British High Commission, Claire Perry MP, 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 driver training and will also consist of a conference room and an office.