Health, it is said, is wealth. There is a cliche that says ‘A healthy nation is a wealthy nation’. Thus, if any country wishes to develop, it has to make healthcare delivery a priority. It is unfortunate that there is not enough medicine in our public hospitals, not even the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital has adequate drugs for their patients. Many a time, patients who go to the EFSTH end up being given a prescription to go to private pharmacies to buy the medicines.

A few days ago, I met an old woman at the gate of the nation’s main referral hospital (EFSTH) and she complained that only the rich can get healthcare in this country now. I asked what she meant as she was just coming out of a hospital and she said, ‘I was just given a prescription to go to the private pharmacies to buy the medicines but I am poor; I’ve no money to buy anything.’

I felt sorry for this woman but then thought of the thousands of Gambians who have no way of paying for such treatment when they or their children are sick. The old woman only had a few paracetamol tablets on her because that was all what was available at the hospital. I tried to imagine if our main hospital has only paracetamol; how on Earth are they going to provide us with the right healthcare we need – and deserve as a people?

The alternative to the public hospitals is going to one of the numerous private clinics in the country which, as it so happens, charge exorbitant fees in order to treat patients. Perhaps only a tiny percentage of our population have the ability to get any treatment from private hospitals. I ask isn’t there a way to control the amount of money charged in these hospitals (I mean the private hospitals)?

I am no lawyer or health expert but I do know that something has to be done to enable our people get treatment when they need it. When the population cannot have access to medical care if they are sick, this will naturally start affecting their work which will inevitably have an adverse effect on our economy.
In short, there can be no form of development if the people of the nation are sick and cannot find treatment. True, the economic condition is not good but still, provision must be made for the purchase of medicines so that whenever our people fall sick, they can get the treatment they need.
Have a Good Day Mr President…

Tha Scribbler Bah
A Concerned Citizen