A new fleet of 24 vehicles and 60 motorbikes were handed over Thursday to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare by Riders For Health (RFH), as part of efforts to enhance mobility in The Gambia's healthcare delivery system.
The latest delivery, meant for the West Coast and the North Bank Regions, was presided over by the vice president and minister of Women's Affairs, Her Excellency Aja Dr. Isatou Njie-Saidy at the July 22nd Square in Banjul.
This provision, which was done in collaboration with Guaranty Trust Bank, was part of the third tranche of Transport Asset Management initiative, a vehicle leasing programme that includes fleets of new motorbikes, ambulances and trekking vehicles all fully loaded and budgeted for over their entire lifespan.
In her remarks, the vice president acknowledged the significant inroads RFH has made in The Gambia's health care transport management system. She informed that the provision was being made five years after [the end of] RFH's 2nd tranche of vehicles and motorcycles to the government of The Gambia. "Since the advent of the July 22nd Revolution, the health sector has and continues to be a priority for my government and it is my fervent wish to bring affordable and efficient health care delivery to every nook and cranny of this country," she affirmed.
VP Njie-Saidy renewed government's commitment to continue paying attention to transport logistics in view of its importance to the health care delivery system. She underscored that referrals, advocacy and follow-up treatment, can only be facilitated through a robust transport system.
The veep noted that the government's contract with RFH has made available fleets of vehicle and an effective system to manage them to ensure that health workers, drugs, vaccines as well as medical supplies among others reach the target communities and patients at the right time. "Therefore, we have no regrets that government entrusted the operation and maintenance of the public health sector's transport fleet to the Riders for Health since 2002," she declared.
She enjoined RFH to continue to provide efficient services as government is committed to paying regularly the running cost of the fleet. The VP affirmed that the latest fleet of vehicles will be deployed to the West Coast and the North Bank Regions to ensure access and wider national coverage. "Therefore, we expect improvement in the delivery of health services from health workers in those regions as they will be more mobile," she added. While calling on the users of the vehicles to handle these capital assets entrusted to them with utmost care, the VP informed that the riders and drivers have been trained to international standard. She opined that with efficient handling of the assets and their proper maintenance provided by the RFH, the vehicles and motorbikes could serve five years and still have good residual value. "Misuse of vehicles will not be tolerated and culprits will be punished," she warned, challenging the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and the RFH to monitor the movements of the vehicles.
The Transport, Works and Construction minister, Balla Garba Jahumpa, who deputised for his Health and Social Welfare colleague, said the government has a strong relationship with the RFH since 2002 with a specific purpose to provide and sustain primary health care in the country. The availability of the vehicles, he said, will help The Gambia in its drive to meeting the Millennium Development (MDG) goals, particularly those that relate to health. Minister Jahumpa further underscored that the availability of these vehicles will also facilitate the increase in contact between primary health workers and their operation areas and the diagnosis of diseases. "It will also improve the timely delivery of drugs to health facilities from stores," he concluded.
The RFH chief operations officer, Vinay Laragu, said it is their strong goal to ensure that no one dies from an easily preventable disease, saying the institution strongly believes in taking action for delivery.
"Riders For Health is working to ensure the 'last mile' is the most important mile in health care delivery. Today, we are proud of our transparent partnership with the government of The Gambia. We hope that other African countries will emulate The Gambia in improving their health services," he concluded.