The Gambia continues to grapple with a low life expectancy associated with a high infant and childhood mortality. This is coupled with an unacceptably high maternal mortality despite the construction of several hospitals and health centers by the APRC regime.
Gambians continue to suffer from disease due a pervasive lack of standardized care across the spectrum of health facilities as well as shortages and mal-distribution of health professionals, diagnostic services and essential medicines. Estimates from the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare report a low coverage of essential screening services for hypertension and diabetes, with over 40 % of the Gambian adult population never having had their blood pressure and glucose checked. These two risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease, are a leading cause of death in the adult Gambian population. Tobacco consumption is also a big problem, with over 25 % of our adolescent and one-third of our adult population reported by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare as cigarette smokers.
Despite the establishment of a medical school, and the existence of schools of Public Health, Nursing and Midwifery, the APRC regime has been unable to implement coherent health policies, which coupled with executive interference in the practice of medicine, has resulted in the emigration of doctors, nurses and other allied health professionals, therefore exacerbating the health crisis.
If elected president, we will institute the following health reforms:
- Establish a national health insurance scheme to make quality health care accessible to all Gambians.
- Introduce a standardized diagnostic and treatment program for the top 10 diseases affecting all segments of the population and ensure that health workers, diagnostic equipment and medicines are available for the appropriate level of care.
- To improve maternal mortality, we will train and retain more midwives, support, upgrade and integrate the traditional birth attendants into the health care delivery system, for an improved maternity service that ensures safer deliveries.
- Increase tax on tobacco and all revenue so generated would be channeled towards the expansion and strengthening of health centers for a more accessible, affordable and better quality health service delivery.
- The medical school will be strengthened and supported to attain a world-class curriculum to train physicians, nurses, midwives and public health specialists with a focus on domestic health issues.
- In order to mitigate the socioeconomic impact of seasonal and sporadic epidemics of infectious diseases such as malaria and Ebola virus, we will restructure and strengthen the Public Health Service and develop a disease surveillance and response program that includes the Military, Police Force and other allied security forces to ensure that epidemics are detected early and acted upon appropriately.
- We will review the conditions of service of all health workers and incentives will be created to retain skilled health professionals.
- We will institute legislative reform that empowers the Board of Health and constituent bodies to standardize and regulate the practice of modern and traditional medicine with a view to protect the general public.