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When the Exotic Proves More Attractive

Aug 11, 2008, 8:08 AM

It was recently announced that one Ramatoulie Jallow, a 28 year-old mother and resident of Serekunda London Corner, had given birth to live conjoined twins at The Gambia Family Planning Association Reproductive Health Clinic at Kanifing South. As is the case the world over in rare medical occurrences of this kind there has been massive media and public interest in the case. Medical research puts the instance of conjoined twins at roughly one in every 50,000 births. These are extremely long odds. All over the world the surgery to separate twins of this kind makes the headlines. The surgery is complicated, expensive and at the very cutting edge of medical practice. For this reason many cases often take on a kind of 'celebrity' status with a publicity circus developing around the case, the children and the families.

The mother of the babies, Ramatoulie Jallow, has already appealed to organisations and philanthropists to support them both morally and financially and this is very understandable.

As this case is so very rare and extraordinary, the unfortunate truth is that she and her husband are far more likely to receive the financial assistance they need for the procedure than the families of children we see every day in our newspapers and on our television screens who are suffering from very serious, if not as sensational, ailments or conditions.

We have written in these pages before of the need to address this issue within our health service. We are not demanding that the health service in The Gambia be magically brought in line with the level of service available elsewhere on the planet but we do ask that a system is established. This system would ensure that patients, be they children or adults, do not have to die while waiting for life-saving treatment simply because they cannot afford to travel.We wish the conjoined twins and their family good luck on the difficult road that lies ahead of them. We also pray that those other families who are waiting by their phones for news of donors that will help them with their medical bills can cope with the deadly, harsh reality that they must endure at this time.

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