Gambia Association of Resident Doctors - GARD says they have condemned in the
strongest terms the statement made by the country’s Minister of Health and
Social Welfare Saffie Lowe-Ceesay that efforts in developing Gambia’s health
sector is held back by corrupt and unpatriotic doctors.
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, a local newspaper quoted the health minister as also saying that unless corruption is wiped out of the country, the health system would not realise its objectives.
“When we talk about corruption in the health system, we all know how it is. These young doctors will just go and practice pharmaceuticals and some of them will open pharmacies with the resources that we have. I am very sure of what I am saying because I was the PS,” minister Lowe-Ceesay was quoted on the Standard Newspaper.
An executive member of GARD who wanted to remain anonymous said the Minister’s statement was as an insult to Gambian doctors and other health practitioners. “We are calling on her to apologise and withdraw her statement because it is totally unacceptable and an insult to us. Doctors are doing everything possible to ensure that the health system works. She knows that corruption is something that has been happening in the system then why can’t she correct it because she said she was one-time the PS of the ministry,” our source said.
Our GARD source stated that they will call a press conference on Tuesday to respond to the minister’s statement and equally make their position clear to the public.
Dr. Mariam Mbowe, a member of GARD currently studying in Europe said hearing such statement from the health minister is embarrassing, saying, “how can she utter such statement in an international conference? To me, she just wanted to use health care providers’ especially young doctors as scapegoats for woefully failing Gambians in the health system.”
She said since Minister Lowe-Ceesay’s position as permanent secretary and now minister, no changes have been realised in Gambia’s health system, saying things are just getting worse every day. “Gambian health providers are working under very extreme conditions with no resources. Instead of fixing those problems she is accusing us of corruption and stealing.”
Dr. Mbowe said the minister should withdraw her statement and immediately resign from the post. “If there is no trust it will be difficult to get the needed results.”
When Dr. Mbowe was asked whether the minister’s allegation is true, she said drugs and other supplies are always in short. She said there are different teams in a hospital setting and each of them is responsible for different work in providing services to patients.
“In hospital, drugs are managed by the pharmacy staff. The doctors consult and write prescriptions for their clients. Her allegation is baseless as her ministry has failed to provide basic essential medications.”