Ahmadou Lamin Samateh, the newly appointed minister of Health and Social
Welfare has stated that The Gambia health system is transforming at a rapid
rate; as in 1998 there were only three referral hospitals in the country. These
according to him, were RVTH, Bansang and AFPRC.
He added that today there is growing expansion of health care services in both the public and private sectors.
Dr. Samateh was speaking yesterday morning during the opening of two days forum on the validation of the Health Systems Assessment (HSA) report held at the Senegambia Beach Hotel.
The objective of the validation was to assess the functionality of the health system in terms of how well the Ministry of Health could respond to the challenge of health in the twenty-first century in terms of the drive towards universal health coverage.
“The assessment process and methodology consisted of analysis of the country’s performance according to set of internationally recognised indicators and a more detailed set of qualitative and quantitative indicators. Key informant interviews and health facility visits were carried out to collect additional information and data and understand different perspectives regarding the strengths and weaknesses of the health system.”
The Health minister added that the HSA team members consolidated and analysed available data across all components of the health system and assessed how the health system is performing as a whole and identified obstacles and opportunities that cut across multiple health system components.
This assessment, Samateh went on, will therefore bring out policy action that will help policymakers to select interventions that will respond to different health problems and decide on the allocation of resources considering different priorities and demands with short, medium and long-term perspectives.
“The government,” he explained, “has steadily shown commitment in the budget apportioned to the health sector. However, the 15% allocation from the national budget as pledged in the Abuja Declaration, is yet to be achieved,” he added.
Dr. Desta A. Tiruneh. World Health Organisation (WHO) country representative, said the comprehensive HSA is the first key collaboration between the major health partners in the era of the new government, adding that it was the result of development partners’ goodwill to respond to government concerns to understand the status of the health sector.
The process, he said, demonstrates the importance of partnership that the health sector needs to strengthen further to attain the ultimate goal of universal coverage. “It is in this regard that WHO gave the utmost significance to support the government through the Ministry of Health to complete the HSA as soon as possible to generate evidence that guides actions to address the gaps identified by Health Systems Assessment,” he stated.
Dr. Desta A Tiruneh noted that without evidence based conclusions and proper diagnostic analysis; “we can’t take appropriate corrective actions that will lead to an improvement in health outcomes.”