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Analytical summary - General country health policies

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Decentralization is the major cornerstone of the Government of the Gambia's Poverty Reduction Strategy 2007–2011[1] to improve service delivery to the poor. Decentralization involves the creation of regional health teams, which currently are headed by directors. Regular meeting between the regional teams is an entry point to revitalize primary health care in the regions.

Public health policies have been formulated by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare to engage all disciplines for effective management of the population`s health and well-being. The National Health Policy serves as the basis for all other policies in the health sector. The Health is Wealth 2011–2020 Policy covers areas of health system strengthening as well as new inputs resulting from gaps identified in the previous policy.

Reproductive health, drugs and medical supplies, noncommunicable diseases, mental health and the National Policy on Blood Transfusion address specific needs in the sector.

The Social Welfare Policy, the Policy for the Elderly and the Child Protection Policy are currently guiding the delivery of services to vulnerable groups.

The primary goal of the various policies is to provide direction to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare to deliver on its mandate. At times, lack of funding for certain activities limits the usefulness of these policies.

The importance of a well-functioning health system for the delivery of quality services is recognized and specific policies on human resources, maintenance of physical structures and vehicle management are in place to strengthen the health system.

Health issues are also dealt with in various other policies, the elaboration of which involves health sector actors, including the Education, Agriculture, Trade, Sanitation, Nutrition and Agriculture Policies.

These policies are sometimes not widely disseminated within and between sectors and therefore collaboration is not maximal. Policy updating is also a major weakness of some sectors, leading to delays in implementation of new strategies. The Planning Directorate of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare should therefore initiate and strengthen intersectoral policy dialogue for the smooth implementation of the health components of policies from other sectors.


  1. Final report of the mid-term review of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSPII) 2007–20011 (pdf 580.60kb). IMF Country Report No. 11/27. Washington DC: International Monetary Fund, International Development Support Services; 2011