The African Union Commission Deputy Chairperson Amb. Kwesi Quartey concluded a two-day official visit to Banjul, where he paid a courtesy call to the President of the Republic of The Gambia H.E. Adama Barrow. He expressed the Commission's confidence in the ability of the government and the Gambian people, to consolidate the gains made since the political transition, acknowledging the ongoing reforms in Gambia's civil service and the efforts that have gone into the socio-economic development of the country. Amb. Kwesi reaffirmed that the African Union stands ready to support Gambia, particularly, in creating conducive conditions for the Gambians to effectively manage their national affairs and to find "Gambian solutions to Gambian problems".
President Barrow while welcoming the African Union Commission delegation to State House, highlighted the democratic principles that guided the peaceful political transition in the country, emphasizing his administration's focus on promoting democracy, peace and stability, by building strong institutions for sustainable national development. He at the time noted Africa's untapped capacity, underscoring the need for the continent to harness the demographic dividend of its human resource. The President was joined by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Ousainu Darboe.
During his visit, the Deputy Chairperson joined President Barrow for the official opening of the 58th Annual Conference and Scientific Meeting of the West African College of Surgeons (WACS), a professional regional organization of 22 African countries that seeks to promote education and training of specialists, accreditation of the tertiary Health Institutions, and provision of support for medical research and publications.
President Barrow, in his remarks, stated that health remains one of the top priorities of his administration and welcomed the work of the West African College of Surgeons to build capacity through education and training. "The work of the surgeons is critical in our vision on the provision of better health to our people. Health is key to the well-being of our citizens. It is the right of every citizen and a responsibility for all", the President noted.
Amb. Kwesi highlighted the important auxiliary role of the West African College of Surgeons in advancing the health and wellbeing of the African citizenry. He further observed that Africa has made great progress in addressing continental health challenges such as TB, HIV/AIDS and malaria, however noting that the continent remains vulnerable to the high burden of communicable diseases which hinder socio-economic development. He stated the relevance of the establishment of the African Center for Disease Control and Prevention (ACDC) to facilitate better coordination, preparation and effective response to health emergencies. "To achieve the vision of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, the need to overhaul health and education systems is essential. There is an urgent need for investment in science education, with an effective all-inclusive medical education program, and more incentives to medical students. We must also provide better facilities and, above all, remunerate our doctors better", he stated.
Mrs. Saffie Lowe-Ceesay, Minister of Health and Social Welfare of the Republic of The Gambia, on her part, acknowledged the good work by the Outreach program of the WACS, where many Gambians have benefitted from free major and minor surgeries that would otherwise, have cost them a great deal of resources.
Professor Terna Yawe, President of the West African College of Surgeons observed that the five-day conference under the theme "Global surgery implementation for West Africa" was key in exploring areas around healthcare financing, innovations for training and human development of human resource for health in West Africa and supporting the vision of AU Agenda 2063.
In a separate engagement, the Deputy Chairperson visited the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) headquarters in Banjul. He held talks with the Commissioners on administrative and operational matters that would advance important work of the an African Union Organ, in the protection and promotion of human rights in the continent; a precondition for Africa's development.