Jan 3, 2017, 11:15 AM
The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare with support from UNICEF recently conducted a day long awareness raising and sensitization meeting for media practitioners.
The training session focused on the national sanitation and hygiene policy, and was held at the National Malaria Control Programme office in Kanifing.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Director of Health Services, Dr Mamadi Cham, said sanitation and hygiene is an environmental health issue.
The Deputy Chief Public Health Officer, Bolong Jobarteh, said sanitation and hygiene is a cross cutting issue and involves a lot of stakeholders, including the Ministry of Water Resources, Community Development, National Environment Agency, the councils, National Disaster Management Agency and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, among others.
According to Jobarteh, the Ministry of Health has now been identified as the lead agency in sanitation and hygiene issues in The Gambia.
“For that reason, the strong and buoyant relationship existing between the ministry of Health and the Association of Health Journalists should be further exploited through advocacy and dissemination of information to the population,” he noted.
He added that the Government of the Gambia recognizes that safe water, improved sanitation and hygiene are essential in achieving the improvement to people’s health, and in contributing to the attainment of Goal 7 and target 7 of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Mr Jobarteh further revealed that having recognized the importance of sanitation in the development of the nation, a multidisciplinary approach was adopted as sanitation is not one sector’s responsibility, but is cross-cutting and everybody’s business, and that various government sectors participated in drafting and validating the policy.
According Musa Drammeh, the water and sanitation hygiene officer of UNICEF, all 16 countries in West Africa are off track, adding that, 10 of the 16 West African countries are among the 25 most off track in the world, and annually, 342,000 children die from diarrhoea in West Africa.
Mr Drammeh said African leaders recognized the importance of water and sanitation for social, economic and environmental development and are committed to increase efforts to implement past declarations, and raise the profile of sanitation by addressing the gaps in Ministerial Declaration on sanitation.
He also spoke of creating a conducive environment to enhance the effective engagement of local authorities, media, private sector and CSOs build institutional and human resources capacities at all levels, as well as mobilize increased donor and other financing for the water and sanitation initiatives.
Mr. Drammeh added that delegates agreed on an action plan for 2008 to 2010 to put Africa ‘back on track’ to meet the sanitation MDGs.
According to the Technical Director of NEA, Masanneh Kanteh, his agency in collaboration with the Health ministry, control and prevent environmental and public health effects related to pesticides, as well as disease occurrence and spread.
He said that in The Gambia, the most common diseases are preventable, and the priority diseases for control and prevention are malaria, tuberculosis, HIV\AIDS and diarrhoea. He added that programme units have been established for each of these at the ministry of Health.
Ebrima Gassama, a health officer at KMC, stated that they have 17 wards within the municipality and that 33 percent of Gambians are within the Kanifing Municipality.
“We have twenty-four tractors that collect waste from household, markets, business enterprises and industries.”
According to him, the council has 266 people working in the waste management section, and there are 19 private waste collectors operating within the municipality boosting hygiene, and thus complementing their efforts.