Dr. Ahmadou Lamin Samateh, minister for Health received the donation on behalf of his ministry at a ceremony held at the Central Medical Store in Kotu.
UNICEF Gambia country office in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and partners like National Nutrition Agency are supporting the Integrated Management of Acute Malnutrition (IMAM) program to combat malnutrition in children 6-59 months of age, thus, the procurement and distributions of several tonnes of the Ready-to-Use-Therapeutics Food supplies to Severely Acute Malnourished (SAM) across the length and breadth of the country.
These RUTF supplies, according to health officials, helped SAM children by enabling them gain weight rapidly while ensuring essential vitamins and minerals are provided during these critical physical and intellectual growth periods of infants and young children.
Receiving the items, Minister Samateh thanked UNICEF for their continued partnership with his ministry. The Ministry of Health, he added, recognizes the tremendous contribution UNICEF is rendering in ensuring that Children in The Gambia live a healthy and happy life.
“Under my leadership, I will ensure that a conducive environment is always created for this relationship to excel from strength to strength,” he said.
He continued: “My ministry will continue to provide the commitment and required human and technical resources to ensure that the gains registered by the IMAM program are sustained,” he said.
The Nutrition unit under Directorate of Health promotion and Education, according to him, will continue to provide the needed expertise and coordination in empowering community structures to identify malnutrition at household level for early referral, citing the mother MUAC activity with communities as one such example.
Speaking earlier, Modou Njai, director of Health Promotion and Education at the Ministry commended UNICEF Gambia office for their long-standing partnership.
He spoke highly of the successes registered so far with projects supported by UNICEF under his directorate and also the various activities it has undertaken with support from UNICEF.
“Among those were the successful implementations of the establishment of Village Support groups in non-Primary Health care villages for the implementation of community-based nutrition education and WASH through SBCC in West Coast, Central and Upper River Regions of The Gambia.”
Also speaking Dr. Babanding Sabally, director of Pharmaceutical Services said the donated items would help to prevent infections and promote health of malnourished children in The Gambia.
“These items are very important and we thank the donors for their valuable support,” the pharmaceutical director remarked.
For his part, Pa Modou Cheyassin Phaal, executive Director of NaNA, described the donation as ‘timely’, noting that it came at the time when the country needs it most. He confirmed that malnutrition is a still a major problem in The Gambia.
The new UNICEF country representative in The Gambia, Mr. Louis commented on the long partnership, further promising their continued advocacy in strengthening of activities with the ministry as well as advocating for his team to be working closely with the Ministry of Health.
Staff of the Nutrition unit under the Directorate of Health Promotion and Education, UNICEF, among others, witnessed the presentation.