The country representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) has said that The Gambia is experiencing shortage of medical specialists with a doctor to population ratio of 1 to 10,000 as opposed to the WHO recommended standard with a percentage of 22.8% which is the minimum standard.
Dr Desta Tiruneh was speaking recently during the validation of the draft bill for the establishment of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of The Gambia.
He observed that this significant shortage remains in the sector as midwives, laboratory professionals, medical doctors, and physicians are in short supply.
The WHO Rep further indicated that most of the medical doctors or specialists are stationed in urban centers particularly in the Banjul areas.
“In 2021, out of 79 specialists, 99% were working in western regions 1 and 2 only.” he said.
He however, thanked the government of The Gambia for its continued effort in making The Gambia’s health sector stand out, saying establishing a college would contribute immensely in meeting the goals of the health ministry across the entire country.
Dr. Desta equally recommended local training of health workers particularly as it guarantees long term value for money and equity.
“With more medical specialists being trained and retrained to work in places where they are needed, the health care continues to get in foot.” Dr Desta stated.
Also speaking, Dr Samateh, Minister for Health acknowledged that medical specialists need more in-house training to help strengthen the health sector.
He indicated that though the country is among the last to validate this initiative, it should be a room to avoid errors and learn from those that have been there to make sure the college stands out.
Professor Richard Adanu Rector, representative from Ghana College of Surgeons and Physicians said before establishing a college, they must note that the institution should meet the needs of Gambians, sub regions and then the globe at large if the financial support is available.
“We need to know what the government targets are and design a college that matches those targets.” he said.
Professor Philip Mshelbwala, Secretary General of the West African College of Surgeons said the college if established should not only serve locally, but maintain international standards in order to produce good result and for easy accessibility.
Fanta Baye Secka, DPS admin and finance, Ministry of Health in her welcoming remark said the bill would contribute greatly in betterment of the country’s healthcare sector.