United States medical organizations; the International Medical and Dental Relief and Big Dreams Inc. in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare have offered free medical and dental relief to 4180 Gambians at Sika, Pakau Njogu and Medina Sedia villages in North Bank Region’s Upper Niumi District between 16 to 21 September. The free medical assistance was also extended to Sanyang and Bondali villages of West Coast Region.
IMR and BDI brought a team of 9 licensed medical professionals and health educators to The Gambia to provide health care and health education. In Sika, the team treated and offered free medical and dental relief to 711 people, 896 people in Pakau Njogu and 1400 at Medina Sedia. 697 people were treated in Sanyang and 476 in Bondali.
Founder Big Dreams Inc. Mamina Sonko said their challenge was trying to meet the need of the people as there were many who needed medical care for years.
Dr. Amy Jordheim, chairperson of IMR medical advisory said the mission is amazing and they have come to know that Americans and Gambians work very well together and also have the same goal and mission of caring for people.
She said the challenge they observed is that Gambia does not have enough providers and health care in rural areas which was why there were huge number of people who came to seek assistance from their free treatment.
Dr. Holly Mintz MD said by far, the hardest challenge is to see people suffering from a sickness without being able to provide options for treatment.
She gave an example of an 8-month-old child with clubfeet who, she said could have been corrected within weeks of birth in the US, saying her inability to offer anything to the child and her mother was heart breaking to her.
She also gave an example of a lady who was sick for over two years and not being financially strong to seek medical help.
“We took her home and I met her entire family and I hope there are things I can find when I return home and send them to help her,” she added.
Janet BavteR RN said she always wanted to come to Africa when she was younger and as such when the mission came she took the opportunity to serve humanity.
She described the Gambia as a great place to volunteer, saying the people are wonderful.
The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare earlier this year signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with International Medical Relief (IMR) and Big Dreams Inc. (BDI) for the medical and dental mission.
Amy Jordheim, chairperson of IMR medical advisory board earlier this year visited The Gambia at the invitation of the health ministry to discuss the IMR and Big Dreams partnership with the ministry.
The partnership with the Health Ministry ensures cooperation between them and the two organizations provide oversight and local knowledge for the areas and populations with the greatest needs.