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Gambia Observes West African Health Organisation Day

Jul 10, 2009, 9:47 AM | Article By: Sainey M.K. Marenah

The Gambia yesterday Thursday 9th July 2009, commemorated West African Health Organisation, WAHO's day. The day is set aside by the authority of Head of States and Government of ECOWAS, to study and promote research on major endemic diseases of the sub-regions and undertake activities towards eradicating them.

The celebration, which took the form of a cultural display, was organised by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, in collaboration with its partners.

Addressing the gathering, Dr. Bekai Camara, the Director of Health Services, who delivered the goodwill message on behalf of the Director-General of WAHO, Dr. Placido Monteiro Cardosa, stated that 9th July 1987 to 9th July 2009 exactly marked 22 years ago of its existence, adding that "the leaders of ECOWAS members states, head of states of solidarity, agreed to endorse the official creation of the West African Health Organisation".

According to Dr. Camara, they adopted the relevant protocol which was subsequently ratified by each government of ECOWAS member state, noting that WAHO became the specialised institution of ECOWAS in charge of health issues.

According to Camara, WAHO became a dynamic convergence instrument of the achievement of two farmer inter-government health organisations, which exist in West African region, saying that they are entrusted with the mission of transcending linguistic barrier and serving all 15 members states in the field of health.

But he noted that "the annual and regular commemoration of this state constitutes for our organisation, a platform to draw attention of members states and the international community to the huge challenges in the area of health in our region, for greater mobilisation". This year, he added, the theme unanimously selected was "Epidemic control: one of the challengers facing ECOWAS member states."

He said West Africa has a population of over 260 million inhabitants, with different ecological and epidemiological features, characterised by infectious diseases.

For his part, the Representative of WHO, Mr. Alpha Jallow, told the gathering that recent decades have seen the emergencies of new challenges for communicable diseases control, saying that more than thirty new human pathogen have appeared (SARS, HIV etc) which, he said, are very likely to have repercussion on natural and international travel.

WHO Representative believes that these pandemic risks are usually more compounded by epidemics, deliberately caused by human and by the risk of accident involving biochemical product or radioactive elements. He said the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has the full support of WHO.

Speaking earlier, Mr. Sanna Sambou, the Coordinator for Epidemiology of Disease Control Unit at the Ministry of Health stated that, despite the progress made in fitting to control, eliminate and eradicate many of these infectious diseases, this sub-region, including the Gambia still remain very vulnerable to a wide array of new and resurgent organisms.

He further dilated that, the problem is complicated by the rapid processes that result in the emergencies of new potentially dangerous bacterial and viral diseases, such as viral hemorrhagic fevers, SARS, swine flu, HIV/AIDS and TB, which is out of control and killing majority of aids patients.

Alhagie Saikou Janneh and Sainey Susso, both Permanent Secretaries at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare spoke at length about WAHO and the theme for this year's commemoration.