By Aramata Jatta
As maternity death is very high in the rural areas most especially in URR, Hon. Foday N.M Drammeh NAM for Tumana constituency raised concerns to the Minister health Dr. Momodou Lamin Samateh as to whether there are plans to construct a Health center in Tumana Constituency. Hon Drammeh argued that access to health is not a privilege but a right
He raised this concern yesterday during the questions for oral answers of the second ordinary session in the 2019 legislative year of the Nation Assembly in Banjul. A session in which deputies engage various ministers on wide range of issues affecting the development of the country and the welfare of the masses, to promote accountability and transparency among ministries thus making them answerable to the National Assembly.
‘’ I would like to inform as well as remind the Honorable member for Tumana that in 2017 approval has been granted to the community of Sare Alpha in Tumana district for the construction of a Health facility. The block laying was graced by the then Minister, Hon. Saffie LoweCeesay who was delegated by H.E. the President of the Republic, Adama Barrow and your humble self was present on the occasion. The construction is still in progress’’ Dr. Samateh responded.
On a similar engagement with the Minister, Hon. Sanna Jawara NAM for upper faladu on behalf of hon. Ndow NAM for Banjul central asked the health Minister the reason why there are no enforcement mechanisms to stop the sale of medical drugs by uncertified personnel in public places such as markets, ferry terminals, streets etc.
‘’ Medicines Control Agency has an enforcement mechanism in place which is carried out by the Inspectorate Unit. The Unit is responsible for the enforcement of illegal manufacture, import, export, storage, and sale of medicines and related products nationwide’’ Dr. Samateh explained to NAMs
He indicated that the Inspectorate Unit has inspectors in all the Regions of the country who conduct routine, follow up and investigative inspections at all pharmaceutical premises. In which some inspections or raiding activities enforcement conducted include markets, streets, “Lumos” and Ferry Crossings nationwide.
‘’ The Banjul Ferry Terminal was raided by MCA Inspectors in November 2017 and five medicine peddlers were arrested, medicines confiscated and taken to the Police. In Banjul, another raiding was carried out at the Albert Market by MCA Inspectors and the Police in February 2018 leading to a discovery of an illegal Pharmaceutical Warehouse and the culprit was arrested and taken to the Police’’ Dr. Samateh revealed.
Hon. Minister narrated that in West Coast Region, the Brikama Market was raided in November 2017 and eight people were arrested whiles the medicines confiscated were taken to the Police.
‘’ The Brikama Car Park was also inspected in November 2017 which led to the discovery of illegal pharmaceutical store and all the medicines were seized’’.
He highlighted that In the Kanifing Municipal Council, the Westfield Junction was raided in July 2018 by MCA inspectors in collaboration with the Serekunda Police and eight drug peddlers were arrested and taken to the police. Likewise the Latri Kunda Market was also inspected in July 2018 which led to the arrest of one person and his medicines confiscated.
‘’ In North Bank Region the Bambatenda Yelitenda Ferry Crossing and the Farrafeni Lumo were raided several times by the MCA inspectors in collaboration with the police in March 2018, October 2018 etc. In the Central River Region Wassu Lumo was inspected in March 2018 and three people were arrested and their medicines confiscated. In upper River Region Sare Bojo Lumo was raided in March 2018 and/ six people were arrested and their medicines confiscated. Sare Ngai Lumo was also visited in March 2018 and one person was arrested and the medicines seized’’.
The hon. Minister concluded that this activity however should be conducted more frequently to be effective but due to inadequate human capacity and financial resources, it is conducted on a quarterly basis. He said there are plans to gradually increase the human resource and also cooperate with the security institutions for additional support.