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Gambia Still Vulnerable to New Resurgent Organisms

Jul 9, 2009, 6:15 AM | Article By: Abdou Rahman Sallah

Mr Sana Sambou, the Co-ordinator of Epidemiology and Disease Control Unit at the Ministry of Health and social Welfare has stated that despite the progress made in fighting to control, eliminate and eradicate many infectious diseases, the Gambia still remains very vulnerable to a wide array of new resurgent organisms.

Mr. Sambou made this remark at a press conference on Tuesday 7th July 2009, held at the conference hall of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in Banjul.

Mr. Sambou further revealed that the problem is complicated by rapid processes that result in the emergence of new, potentially dangerous bacterial and viral diseases such as viral Hemorrhagic fevers, SARs, influenza including the swine flu, HIV/AIDS and TB, which is out of control and killing the majority of AIDS patients.

He said West African Health Organisation (WAHO) is a sub regional organisation formed in 1987 and became operational in 2000, with the ultimate aim of attaining highest possible standards and protection of the health of the peoples of the sub-region.

According to him, the West African sub-region has a population of over 260 million inhabitants and is scientifically characterised by ecologically diverse features, epidemiologically unified and making it a conundrum for cut break of epidemic potential diseases with high morbidility and case fatality rates. He stated that the majority of these diseases are endemic and responsible for yearly and seasonal epidemic/out breaks causing many preventable deaths.

"Despite the progress made in fighting to control, eliminate and eradicate many of these infectious diseases, The Gambia still remain very vulnerable to a wide array of new and resurgent organisms," he added. 

According to him, WAHO has been instrumental in harmonizing policies and mobilizing resources for epidemic prevention and control.

For her part, Mrs. Ramou Cole-Ceesay, the Assistant Director of Health Services stated that the government of The Gambia through its Ministry of Health has been very proactive in its national response since the onset of the swine flu (HINI) pandemic in other parts of the world, following the first reported confirmed case in Mexico April 2009.

According to her, Swine flu is a viral infection that affects the respiratory system of humans, the virus is transmitted from human to human and manifests symptoms such as, high fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache, chills and fatigue.

"Ministry of Health in solid partnership with the WHO and other UN bodies and with assistance of the National Emergency/Disaster council under the purview of the vice president of The Gambia has established National Task Force and sub Committees," she revealed.

She further revealed that health staff are conducting screening in- caring passengers from overseas through out boarder entry points such as the airport, seaport and land port, in making sure that the diseases are not imported to the country.

She noted that the Ministry will still continue to sensitise the public about the diseases and public education on prevention control, such as hand washing with soap and water, before and after blowing your nose, using the toilet, hand shaking, covering mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing.