Acting UNICEF Representative Visits BReST Project and Farafenni EPI Cold Store

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Gambia, 24th August, 2017

The UNICEF Resident Representative ad interim, Dr. Ngashi Ngongo, has successfully completed a monitoring visit to the NgayenSanjal Health Centre, one of the beneficiary health facilities of the Building Resilience through Social Transfers for Nutrition Security in The Gambia, the BReST Project.

At the NgayenSanjal payment centre, Dr. Ngongo held meetings with officials from the National Nutrition Agency and the health facility staff to assess the progress of the BReST Project, and address upcoming challenges. He was also taken on a tour of the maternity ward of the Health Centre, where he had discussions with the health facility staff on the challenges, opportunities, and recommendations for improved service delivery.

The BReST Project is being implemented with the adoption of new innovative technologies to facilitate the cash transfer processes in the North Bank, Central River, and Upper River Regions of the country. Dr. Ngongo was given a brief orientation and detailed demonstration of the SCOPE application, a tool developed by the World Food Programme to aid in registration, verification, and tracking of beneficiaries. He applauded the initiative, noting that it is an exciting innovation with tremendous potential in social transfers beyond The Gambia. He went on to propose several recommendations for maximizing on the opportunity provided by the application, to aid in evaluating the impact and success of the project.

Together with colleagues from the partner institutions, Dr. Ngongo discussed the possibilities of scaling up the BReST Project to ensure that no child is left behind, in line with the principle of universal access in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals. He noted that greater efforts should be made to mobilize additional resources and integrate similar projects to cover all health facilities in the region and ensure that the Maternal and Child Health indicators - in particular immunisation, Vitamin A supplementation, deworming, and use of insecticide-treated bed nets - are improved. He thanked the team for the excellent work in delivering much-needed services to children and women in The Gambia, reaffirming UNICEF’s commitment to keep supporting the Government of The Gambia and other partners to fulfill the rights of all children.

In a similar vein, Dr. Ngongo visited the cold store for vaccines at the North Bank East Regional Health Directorate, in Farafenni. The cold store was established as part of UNICEF’s support to The Gambia’s Expanded Programme on Immunization, and currently houses essential vaccines for disease prevention among children and women. Dr. Ngongo commended The Gambia for the high immunisation rates,while emphasizing the need for additional efforts for the Gambia to become the fifth country in West and Central Africa to achieve the global vaccine action plan national target of 90%.

The EPI Field Officer, Musa Camara, highlighted that despite the very high immunisation rates in the region, attributable to a favourable shift in immunisation attitudes in the region, they still face challenges in tracking down elusive children.He commended UNICEF for the continued support to the EPI interventions in The Gambia, and put forward the possibility of utilizing the BReST Project as a vehicle to reach unvaccinated children in the region.

The BReST Project is a UNICEF project, jointly implemented with the National Nutrition Agency and funded by the European Union. The project seeks to strengthen nutrition security among mothers and babies in North Bank, Central River and Upper River Regions, through monthly cash transfers and comprehensive nutrition education.The BReST Project is currently being implemented in a total of 10 health facilities in these three regions, targeting a total of 5,850 beneficiaries over an implementation period of two years.

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