By Fatou Dahaba
The Minister of Health, Dr. Ahmadou Lamin Samateh, on Tuesday, March 28, 2023, told lawmakers in Banjul that the World Bank would be funding the entire construction of a $7 million (433,650,000.00 GMD) functional lab for the Gambia.
Dr. Samateh said the government, as for their quota, has provided land in Brusubi, and World Bank is paying for all the services involved.
Samateh was in the Parliament to respond to concerns and recommendations of the health committee of the National Assembly on the Acute Kidney Injury (AKI) disease, which killed over 70 children in the country from October 2022 to date.
He said, “we have a firm doing the drawings, and a firm for construction has been sought. This lab will also include a food quality control component; the land is already available, and construction work will start soon.”
This came following a report by the select committee recommending the urgent need for a functional National Medicines Quality Control Laboratory (NMQC Lab). The committee also recommends the government, through the Ministry of Health, accelerate the project noting that it is a requirement under section 50 of the Medicines and Related Product Act 2014.
The honorable member of Wuli East, Suwaibou Touray, sought clarification on the ban on all Maiden Pharmaceuticals products in the Gambia reminding them of a permanent ban on India-made products. And Samateh’s response to this was a positive confirmation of Touray’s claim.
Another parliamentarian to put up a question to the Minister was Hon. Omar Jatto Jammeh of Janjanbureh. He asked about the situational report on the new AKI cases from January to March 2023, including the death of two more children.
However, while expecting an answer from Dr. Samateh, the Deputy Speaker of the Parliament who was overseeing the sittings at the time, Hon. Seedy Njie intervened and stopped the Minister from responding to the question described above, saying it was an exclusion from the report, therefore, cannot be answered.
The health committee recommended that the government compensate the families of AKI’s deceased and surviving children, including free medical care for survivors in attaining their complete cure and recovery.
The committee further tasked the government through the Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology to establish a pharmacy school at the University of The Gambia to train more pharmacists and strengthen regulatory and health care delivery institutions.
“The Universe has already agreed to the process, and World Bank is ready to support the process, and the Postgraduate Committee at the EFSTH has been supporting the process,” says Dr. Samateh.
After probing into the killings of dozens of Gambian children who died due to AKI linked to the contamination of India-made cold syrups, the health committee came up with this report.