12 February 2013

Gambia: Horizons Trust Officials Meet VP Njie-Saidy

Officials of the Horizons Trust Gambia and their partners in the UK have expressed their determination to partner with the government of The Gambia through the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, to see ways and means of curbing maternal mortality in the country.

This disclosure was made on Monday, by Wendy J Graham, Professor of Obstetric Epidemiology at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, shortly after she and delegation called on Her Excellency the vice president and minister of Women's Affairs, Aja Dr isatou Njie-Saidy.

Professor Graham, who is a member of Soap Box, a partner institution with Horizons Trust International, said she is delighted to be back in the country after almost 26 years. She recalled that when she was in the country in those days the number of women dying from pregnancy and childbirth was very high. "And here I am after 26 years a lot has been achieved by the Ministry of Health through the support of very important stakeholders. So there has indeed been progress in the country as less women and babies are dying but we want to do more. The purpose of my visit here is to work with really keen important people in the country, who understand the issue in the country as well as try and find ways to accelerate progress," she remarked.

She also stated that their aim is to have zero tolerance for death in pregnancy and childbirth. She disclosed that there is a Gambian doctor called Dr James Ndow at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, who catalyses the Horizons Trust together with other renowned doctors. "We share our vision as my responsibility is for a charity called 'Soap Box', an initiative trying to improve clean care at delivery. That's a basic right and it is very important to prevent mothers dying in pregnancy and childbirth and thereby making sure that the delivery is safe," Professor Graham added.

She noted that both institutions share the same vision as they all want to help support progress in maternal and new born health positing that they've come together to combine their efforts so as to make a difference. "So, it is two charities coming together to help save the lives of babies and their mothers in The Gambia," she added.

Professor Graham was quick to add that Horizons Trust has been working in The Gambia for a while and that this is her first visit in connection to Soap Box initiatives. She disclosed that they want to move quite fast while expressing optimism that by the middle of the year, they will see how best it will be possible to identify some specific activities like training or trying to raise awareness about the importance of clean delivery among a host of others.

UN Country team

Similarly, officials of the UN country team and their partners based in Dakar, Senegal, Monday also called on VP Njie-Saidy.

The UN officials were at the presidency to hand over a National Action Plan for the Security Council Resolution (13)(25), a resolution adopted by the United Nations Security Council on Women Peace and Security to the officials of the Gambia government.

Speaking to reporters shortly after an audience with the vice president, the senior Human Rights Advisor Chief, Human Rights and Gender Section at the United Nations Office for West Africa, Patrice Vahard, explained that the resolution not only deals with issues relating to the suffering and the violations women go through in the context of conflicts, but also dwells on women participation and as agents of peace and security.

Vahard averred that the resolution means a lot for The Gambia, acknowledging the fact that Gambian women like their colleagues in the international arena play a key role in the maintenance of peace and security.

He said it is important that The Gambia has now adopted a National Action Plan to dig out more and more women as well as groom them from early age to adulthood to enable them play a key role in peace and security not just internationally but within the community. This, he added, will further ensure that they participate meaningfully in national development.

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