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Gambia wins international resolve award for health transport, access to reproductive health

May 31, 2013, 11:19 AM

The Gambia has been awarded the 2013 Resolve Award for health transport and access to reproductive health, at a ceremony celebrating the Resolve Awardees during the Sixty-Sixth (66th) World Health Assembly held in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Resolve Award, received by the Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Bala Garba Jahumpa, honours nations like The Gambia for expanding access to essential reproductive health services.

It is to be noted that Resolve Award winners are chosen through a competitive global nomination process. In addition to The Gambia, this year’s winners include Kenya and Zambia, with a special mention for Sierra Leone.

A press release from the Health Ministry in Banjul said The Gambia has been selected as a winner of the 2013 Resolve Award based on the sustained gains registered in the area of access to reproductive health and reliable referral system for efficient health service delivery.

As a recipient of the Resolve Award, The Gambia’s work on health transport has received international attention. The Resolve Award is granted by the Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health (GLC), a group of eighteen sitting and former heads of state, high-level policymakers and other leaders who build political leadership for increased financial and technical support for reproductive health.

The Award recognizes The Gambia’s work to improve health transport, which is vitally important for reproductive health. In 2009, The Gambia became the first African country with enough health-care delivery vehicles to service its entire population. This was as a result of the innovative partnership between the Gambian Government and Riders for Health, The Gambia.

At the Geneva Policy Dialogue Series on Reproductive Health attended by leaders and health experts gathering from around the world in Geneva for the 66th World Health Assembly, the Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health (GLC) celebrates countries that are surmounting barriers to access to these vital services.

This Policy Dialogue was organized by Aspen Global Health and Development and The World Health Organization Department of Reproductive Health and Research organized The 2013 Resolve Award Celebration with the theme: Delivering on the Promise of Universal Access to Reproductive Health.

In receiving this noble and prestigious Award on behalf of President Jammeh, Health Minister Bala Garba Jahumpa in his Acceptance Speech, clearly pointed out  that “winning the award would not have been possible without conscious efforts by the Government of the Gambia to put in place coherent national health policies for improving quality and access to basic health services”.

He therefore maintained that all credits for earning the 2013 Resolve Award are due to His Excellency the President of The Republic of The Gambia for his dynamic and visionary leadership, and the enormous contributions in health and making it one of the priority sectors.

At the presentation ceremony, Minister Jahumpa indicated that receiving the Award demonstrated government’s resolve to deliver on the promise of Universal Access to Reproductive Health and the need to accelerate the pace of progress towards reducing maternal mortality rates which has remained the priority of the government since it came to power in July 1994.

According to Minister Jahumpa, The President of The Republic of The Gambia apart from declaring free maternal and child services in The Gambia also continued to champion the course of women and children in the country.

Minister Jahumpa also used the occasion to pay tribute to all the public health workers in the Gambia (doctors, public health officers, nurses and those allied to health), for playing a pivotal role in winning the Award for their hard work, commitment, dedication to duty.

He also extended gratitude to the Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health, Aspen Global Health and Development, the WHO Department of Reproductive Health, UNFPA, Global Fund, GAVI, UNICEF and all partners and stakeholders for their unflinching support in the provision of Universal Access to Reproductive Health.

The Awards were presented by GLC chairperson Ms Joy Phumaphi, who also serves as Executive Secretary of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA), is the former Minister of Health for Botswana. According to her, The Gambia and other Resolve Award winners can inspire other nations in the provision of universal access to reproductive health and transport despite the nature of the barriers.

“The Resolve Award winners have shown; all of these barriers can be overcome,” she pointed out.

Joy Phumaphi emphasized that as the world’s nations discuss development strategies to replace the Millennium Development Goals, which expire in 2015, The Gambia and other Resolve Award winners can point the way forward.

“The Resolve Award winners show what we can do—and what we must do—to lead the way to universal access to reproductive health and rights,” said Phumaphi.

According to the release, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare & National Assembly Matters would like to solicit the collaboration, participation and support of everyone in ensuring that the gains registered in the area of universal access to reproductive health under the leadership of His Excellency Sheikh Professor Yahya A.J.J Jammeh, President of The Republic of The Gambia are sustained.