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Dec 15, 2010, 12:42 PM | Article By: Njie Baldeh

The Gambia Association of Public Health Officers (GAPHO) held its bi-annual general meeting at the weekend.

Held at the Gambia College Conference room, the meeting was attended by senior government officials from the Ministry of Health as well as other organisations in the country.

In his opening speech, Kebba Biram Jobe said there are many and varied challenges that public health faces in the 21 century all of which could not be discussed in a short period.

Global public health has become more and more complex in the 21st century, he says.

According to him, the world is marked with health problems, both new and old, that sometimes appear unexpectedly in some places. “Public health boundaries are blurred in that they extend into other areas that influence health opportunities and health outcomes,” he says.

Dilating on climate change, Jobe said the depletion of the ozone layer has resulted in erratic rainfall patterns that cause heat waves and other natural disasters such as droughts, floods, and famine.

“These disasters pose public health challenges in terms of disease outbreaks, such as cholera, measles, rift valley fever, anaemia, protein energy malnutrition, helminthic diseases, and the unprecedented deaths of the elderly in Europe and Northern Nigeria in 2003,” he said.

Sana Malang Sambou, outgoing president of the association, said the theme for this year’s meeting is centred on “public health challenges of the 21st century”.

“We have no doubt about the magnitude of these challenges as we all are affected directly or indirectly regardless of your destiny or location,” he says.

He added that the global public health workforce and partners had demonstrated exemplary solidarity in facing the overwhelming challenges the world had ever experienced.

According to him, the mortality rates and threats of international public health and travel might have exceeded the current global statistics if such efforts were not at most implemented.