By: Landing Ceesay
The Founder and President of ‘Mbama Care’ Foundation and Gambian Women Lives Matter has said Gambia’s maternal and infant mortality rate taints its image internationally.
“As small of a nation as it is, there is no reason that Gambia should have the maternal and infant mortality rate it does. The maternal and infant mortality rate of a country is reflective of its healthcare system, which in turn is reflective of the country as a whole. This makes Gambia look really bad on an international level. In order to tackle this, there needs to be more funding for the health sector,” Matida Bojang said.
The anti-maternal and infant mortality advocate expressed disappointment the situation has not improved despite the president’s campaign promise that issues regarding women and children will be prioritised.
“I am very disappointed that things have not changed considering President Barrow stated in one of his campaigns that children and women’s health would be one of his priorities. After hearing this, I was hopeful that the healthcare system in Gambia would slightly improve. However, it doesn’t seem like that is the case right now.”
Asked her thoughts as to why maternal Mortality Rate has not reduced for the past seven years, she said Gambia’s healthcare system is dysfunctional and lacks adequate resources to prevent those deaths.
Further asked her thoughts as to what the government of the Gambia through the Ministry of Health needs to do to ensure a reduction in maternal mortality, she said at the start of the Gambia Women Lives initiative, they wrote a letter to the Minister of Health presenting 10 demands including:
“Provision of adequate financing of the health sector; formulation of appropriate policies based on evidence-based medicine guidelines; provision of proper healthcare infrastructure and equipment; adequate supplies of drugs and blood; improve transport and communication network, Information and education to promote health-seeking behaviour; confidential inquiry system to provide detailed information about maternal death and publication of such information and tracking of recommendation made, access to quality family planning, Incorporation of emergency obstetric nursing care in the entire nursing training curriculum, mandatory continues medical and nursing education programs in maternal and child health care, provision of standard primary healthcare services in all regions and the Established a joint Commission to regulate and monitor all activities of private and public health centres/hospitals, laboratories; and pharmacies in providing safe, effective, and quality healthcare,” she stated.
The US based Gambian further stated that from August 2020 to date, they can authoritatively confirm the death of more than 100 women during childbirth and more than 80 new born babies died due to birth complications within the Greater Banjul Area. She added that in the Basse Area alone, more than 50 women died due to birth complications.
“We plead to the Gambian government to intervene and help our women. Significant changes need to happen within the healthcare system. …a country’s healthcare system is reflective of the country as a whole. If Gambia’s healthcare system is dysfunctional, then one can assume that Gambia as a country is also dysfunctional,” she stated.
The Gambia Women Lives Matter is an advocacy group striving against the increase in the country’s maternal and infant mortality rate. The group amplifies the voices of the victims through social media campaigns, driving blood donations etc.
Bojang is the Founder and President of Mbama Care Foundation, and the Gambian Women Lives Matter movement. She is originally from The Gambia and now resides in Wisconsin, where she plans to attend medical school and work toward improving access to life-saving healthcare and resources for those in low-resource countries. Her interests include global health disparities and women’s health, many of which stemmed from her upbringing in The Gambia.