20 February 2013

Gambia: Association of Resident Doctors (GARD) Meet

The Association of Resident Doctors (GARD), established three years ago, is made of Doctors trained both nationally and internationally. They are currently the members of the Association at different health facilities in the country including Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital (RVTH), Medical Research Council (MRC), and other private health facilities.

Accordingly, Old Jeshwang Association (ROJA), has been established to relieve sickness and to promote the preservation of good health in the Gambia through the provision of health facilities and the establishment of primary health care programmers. The Association achieves these aims by encouraging direct co-operation between communities and organisations in the UK and the Gambia in "Tesito", or self-help, projects. The ceremony was held at Old Jeshwang Clinic, on 16th February, 2013.

Mr. Balla Garba Jahumpa, the Minister of Health and Social Welfare during his opening remarks, said he is sure that it would not stop at old Jeshwang but would spread to the whole country. He added that the groups or Association doing this are conscious that the Gambian tax payers finance their studies for them to come back as Gambian doctors to serve the society. He said that they have good leadership who care for the Gambian people and their health status and thanked the group from United Kingdom (UK) for their assistance to the nation.

Mr. Stephen Doerr, speaking on behalf of the UK group said they are developing the health services in stages as they are able to gather funds and they have been sponsoring the Old Jeshwang health center for about fifteen years. He said they want it to be a center of excellence; that their main target is to have enough qualified staffs that can provide the needs of the Old Jeshwang community. He added that they need staffs; that they have employed a team of midwives, pharmacists, pathology lab technicians, and also trained staffs to carry out the various administrative tasks necessary to run a busy clinic.

Mr. Doerr said that they are pleased to help the health centers because they know that it can really help the health needs of the community especially health education in schools and young mothers to look after their children. Doerr said the maternity care is important and they want to make sure mothers can deliver their babies in the best possible condition. He said that the funds can be donated to a specific project and there are facilities for such donations to be recognised by a pledge or other means and this is the only health center they are supporting for fifteen years through a grant of the British government over 1,000 pound; that they are able to build the state of the art center and all their funds and money to go into this vision in making it a center of excellence. He said that five children die before their fifth birthday from malaria, anaemia, malnutrition and other causes in their health center and many children in Old Jeshwang attend school without breakfast and with no money to buy Benechin, the national dish, and expressed their wish to establish a school health prgammme.

Mr. Doerr, then went on to add that one of their group members has taken on the development of laboratory services as their project, but they have identified children who are malnourished, and they are able to supplement their diet. He said they need to finance this programme and the Association will allow them to make a continuous contribution to health care in a developing country. He said that the many women and children in Old Jeshwang need health care, that after visiting Old Jeshwang to review the project, they decided that it was worthwhile supporting. He said that they formed the Old Jeshwang Association to raise funds, to offer direct help with the design and construction of the buildings and to advice on the development of services.

Mr. Abdoulie Sowe, the administrator of the Old Jeshwang Clinic has noted that now they have a new electric power, which they are not paying for. He said an important aspect of their programme is the involvement of young people from the UK, medical students have undertaken health care research projects for the association with the department of health.

Mr. Sowe then added that the student midwives have spent study periods in the center as part of their training of local school pupils, that most recently schools have raised funds for new equipment and are also supporting their feeding programme for malnourished children.

Other speakers also took the floor and expressed their gratitude for the programme.

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