Dec 9, 2009, 1:04 PM
The Vice-President of The Gambia Her Excellency Aja Isatou Njie Saidy has disclosed thatthe notion of deliberating on the use of soap as a remedy to boosting child survival may seem trivial to some, noting that it seem insignificant to others, but make no mistake about it.
According to her, in The Gambia almost 90% of the population does not use soap to wash their hands after using the toilet, before preparing food, and after attending to a baby.
In a statement read on her behalf by Antouman Saho, the Minister of Fisheries, Water Resources and National Assembly Matters at a day long public-private sector forum, VP Njie-Saidy said the impact this has on our hygiene is obvious.
"Affordability at strategic levels, such as school may be the challenge, whereby in most schools soap is unavailable for use by both pupils and teachers. This is as unacceptable as it is dangerous," she said, adding that it is so because children spend almost 40 hours a week in school and away from their homes.
"If that school has clean water, and even good toilets, but does not provide soap, then the issue of hygiene remains persistent," VP Njie Saidy stated.
She added that the journey embarked upon by the government of The Gambia to make a nation fit for all children has been long challenging.
"However, our course has remained steady, our determination unfailing, and our results strong. But we can still do more and we must," she noted, adding that government's commitment to do more for children in this country has been ably demonstrated over the years.
"More children are alive to see their 5th birthday today than in 1990 - with a reduction of child deaths from 153 per 1000, to 107 today," she said.
According to her, almost 90 percent of communities have access to clean drinking water, which has surpassed the MDG target for this goal. She stated that fewer children are at risk to being killed by preventable diseases, such as diarrhea and acute respiratory infections.
"More resources are being invested in the health sector with greater priority being placed on child survival. This is so because it is children who make up more than half of the population of this country, with almost 200, 000 of them being below the age of five," she added. These, she noted are government's priorities.