Sad Ironies Lessons: Faith-Based Organizations and Coronovirus In The Gambia

by Alagi Yorro Jallow.
Mamudu: Let us pray for divine intervention in the present health care delivery system in the Gambia that, as a government and people, we learn critical lessons a more significant seasonal virus that goes beyond the outbreak from this season. There are a couple of ironies that we all need to meditate on, particularly Government and faith-based organizations and the role of the private sector in The Gambia.
Mamudu: A reluctant successor government refused to build hospitals across the nation; they refused to renovate the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital inherited; from predecessors, the governments refused a contemporary approach to medical education to the rise of the teaching hospital with control of modern adequate hospital facilities. However, successor government of President Adama Barrow, instead of hospital refurbishment projects, the executive rather prioritized donating luxurious brand new 57 vehicles as a gift to National Assembly members, today, now the National Assembly is in a period of recess, and there is need for modern health facilities in these dark times. We do not have a single, fully equipped good hospital to use in these challenging times. The majority of the isolation wards for Coronovirus have no respiratory machines, yet we are informed that respiratory ventilation machines are badly needed by the patients to help in breathing.
Mamudu: Fourteen days are over for most cases, and people who were infected unknowingly are showing signs. We have also entered the stage of community transmission. Now, this is the stage in which tens or hundreds will start perishing daily if the healthcare system is unprepared or overwhelmed. Several cases will appear in our health facilities, gasping for breath. The Government needs, above all else, to purchase several ventilators for our health facilities. That is what is helping thousands in the developed world. It would be unfair and a violation of our constitution to have insufficient ventilators in a health facility applied to few people while others lose breath and die as we watch.
This is where our Government should put money—not purchasing vehicles in anticipation of party politics. All healthcare facilities must now be prepared to do mitigation, which involves the essential elements of infectious disease control- screening, diagnosing, isolating, and contract tracing. To the Government, the primary role is to ensure a lockdown approach is useful as we cushion citizens from its adverse effects.
Mamudu: Apart from the Ahmadiyya Jamaat, who built hospitals and schools, our other faith-based organizations, you have been busy competing on who could build the largest auditorium or building a substantial spiraling minaret that also influenced Islamic architecture. We begged that the religious group’s team up to build very functional hospitals that would serve more people. No one did. Granted, one or two have hospitals, but given the kind of resources they have, they can do a lot more. Imagine if they complied and even commercialized it. They could easily have three or even four of such major medical facilities countrywide. Now the churches and mosques are empty.
Moreover, there is no functional hospital that can address the health and medical needs of the people. Just imagine if three or four Islamic or Christian groups teamed up to build hospitals that would be so functional. Like the Catholics, Baptists, Anglicans did when we were growing up built schools in support of the Government. Wouldn’t it make so much different today? So they should not be driven by ego.
Nevertheless, these faith-based organizations could have shown compassion to touch and improve the lives and health needs of poor people facing. The initiative against the Coronavirus will involve the erection of fully-equipped medical tents to house patients and serve as training, testing, isolation, and treatment centers, with an additional facility in Mansakonko, Bansang Basse and Bwiam respectively.
Coronavirus campaign should have been led by faith-based organizations tasked with mobilizing the private sector through leadership and resources in creating public awareness and directing support for private and public healthcare institutions.
Giving and pulling resources across industries to provide technical and operational support while providing funding and building advocacy through aggressive awareness drives. These faith-based organizations should have erected fully-equipped tents that will serve as training, testing, isolation, and treatment centers.
Mamudu: We expect the partnership between the faith-based organization and the medical sector are multifaceted and have existed for centuries, including a partnership that has evolved over the past several decades globally. In a time of healthcare resource scarcity, such partnerships involving religious congregations, denominations, and communal and philanthropic agencies are useful complements to the work of private-sector medical care providers and of the Government and efforts of the local public health institutions in their efforts in support the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital. Give the assurance that the centers would be fully equipped with medical supplies and trained personnel to cater to patients.
Besides, they can bring in experts from around the world to provide technical and training support. Coronavirus affects us all and threatens our collective health – economic, social, psychological, and physical wellbeing; hence, the urgent need to work together to beat this common enemy. The majority of the poor Gambians in the Greater Banjul Area depend on Greater Banjul Areas, and for day to day supply, they have not worked now for a week and another coming. We doubt we have food in the national reserve where they will get food. The planting season is about to begin, who is guiding planting to provide for us by August-September? Their children are with them and not in school (60% youth). There is no one to go to for help. Not China, Europe, or the USA.
The task ahead is daunting and more significant than the Government. To win this battle, we all must come together as one. Also, the Government’s support to have private laboratories test alongside private and Government centers to reduce the waiting period for suspected COVID-19 cases. There is only the MRC currently laboratories equipped to handle all the testing in the Gambia.

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