7 March 2018

Gambia: Gard Calls for Health Minister's Resignation

The Gambia Association of Resident Doctors (GARD) have reacted to the statements made by the Minister of Health and Social Welfare Mrs. Saffie Lowe Ceesay and published on Standard Newspaper.

The association members have given the Health Minister 24 hours ultimatum, demanding for her apology and subsequent resignation, failure of which they will go on a sit-down strike. This decision was made yesterday at a press conference held at the EFDSTH Hospital in Banjul. Below is the extract of the press statement:

The Association of Resident Doctors -The Gambia (GARD), a representative of all Resident Doctors, with a current membership of 191 country wide and abroad, hereby issues this press statement as a response to the Health Minister's statement which was published by The Standard Newspaper on 28th February 2018 (VOL 09 ISSUE 42) titled: "CORRUPTION HINDERING HEALTH SECTOR"

In this publication, the Minister of Health and Social Welfare was reported to have revealed that efforts in developing The Gambia's health sector are held back by corruption and unpatriotic doctors. "When you talk about corruption in the health system, we all know how it is. These young doctors that will just go and practice pharmaceutics, some of them have opened their own pharmacies with the resources that we have. I am very sure of what I am saying because I was the PS," she said.

We unreservedly condemn in the strongest possible terms, these defamatory remarks and find them very disappointing without justification.

We understand following subventions from the Ministry, whether adequate or not for a budget proposal, drugs are procured and stored at the Central Medical Stores from where distribution is done to the various Government hospitals and other health facilities on a quarterly basis and sometimes on demand.

At these health facilities, drugs are entirely under the control of the Pharmacy Head of the department. Dispensing of these drugs is done from the pharmacies following a Medical Doctor's prescription per diagnosis made either for out-patient cases or administration within the wards for in-patients, depending on the treatment plan.

Thus, following this chain meticulously, one would agree that the only role a Medical Doctor plays is prescribing. He/she is not in any way, involved in procurement and dispensing of drugs.

If the Minister does not understand these basics from budgeting drug procurement down to dispensing, then it shows her incompetence. Unless she is deliberately scapegoating, knowing where the problem truly lies.

We understand The Gambia is a resource limited country and therefore, it is the responsibility of the Minister and her administration to prepare proper and comprehensive budget proposals for the health sector and to ensure that a wise and transparent allocation is done in all health areas.

However, we expect inefficiency in such since the ministry is administratively challenged. Hence a total restructuring with proper schemes and policies put in place, is required to rehabilitate our debilitating health system.

We therefore, in this regard demand that the minister retracts her statement, apologize to the entire Medical and Health fraternity and immediately appends her resignation within 24 hours or we respond with a sit down strike if these demands are not met.

In this spirit, we continue to pledge our firm allegiance to our beloved country and pray that the great God of nations continue to keep us ever true to the Gambia.

Gambia

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