Doctors demand Health minister’s resignation

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

The Association of Resident Doctors – The Gambia (GARD) is demanding the resignation of the minister of Health and Social Welfare, Saffie Lowe-Ceesay within 48 hours.

This is in relation to the comments she made at a press conference on the sidelines of the Conference and Scientific Meeting of West African College of Surgeons at the Kairaba Beach Hotel in February.

The Standard first reported the Health minister as saying that developing The Gambia’s Health Sector is 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 was quoted by the Standard during a press conference.

GARD is also demanding that the minister retracts her statement, apologies to the entire medical and health fraternity.

The association said if the demands are not met, they will resort to a sit down strike.

GARD is a representative body of all resident doctors with a current membership of 191 countrywide.

Delivering a statement on behalf of GARD at the Conference Hall of the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital in Banjul on Tuesday, Dr. Ebrima Bah, president of GARD said: “We unreservedly condemn in the strongest possible terms, these defamatory remarks and find them very disappointing without justification.”

He explains; “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.

He said at the health facilities, drugs are entirely under the control of the Pharmacy head of department.”

“Dispensing of these drugs is done from pharmacies following a Medical Door’s prescription per diagnosis made, either for out-patient cases or administration within the wards for in-patients depending on the treatment plan.”

“If the minister does not understand these basics from budgeting, drug procurement down to dispensing, then it shows her incompetence at her job. Unless she is deliberately scapegoating, knowing where the problem truly lies,” he said before a chanting crowd: ‘She Must Go!’

Dr. Bah said the doctors understand that 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 also ensure a wise and transparent allocation is done in all health areas.

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

Author: Alieu Ceesay