Specific Programmes and Services
The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in the Gambia has disease-specific programmes at the central level that are responsible for planning and coordinating services at various levels in the health sector. These programme areas are managed by public health officers or nurses, depending on their skills and areas of specialization. Programme managers usually represent the Ministry at international and national meetings in order to understand current strategies and share best practices.
These technical units are under the supervision of the Director of Health Services who is the adviser to the Minister and Permanent Secretary. The programme areas undertake research, advise on policy issues and conduct trainings at all levels.
Three programme areas, namely the Malaria Control Programme, the National Aids Control Programme and the Tuberculosis/Leprosy Programme, are funded under the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. This enables these programmes to achieve important targets due to secure funding for specified periods. Services in these three areas are channelled to the health facilities through the supply of drugs and equipment as well as training on service delivery.
Maternal and child health are coordinated by the Reproductive and Child Health Programme, which is supported mainly by the United Nations Children's Fund, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS and WHO. This unit has in recent years conducted research on vesicovaginal fistula, led the process of reviewing and updating the Reproductive Health Policy as well as taking part in other research. Although the maternal mortality rate is dropping, the Programme is concentrating on best practices, with technical advice from WHO.
The Expanded Programme on Immunization has registered success in vaccine coverage as well as sustaining new vaccines in the immunization schedule. The Government of the Gambia's commitment to the regular purchase of vaccines has been commendable.
The National Eye Care Programme has registered success in service delivery with regular sponsorship from Sightsavers, the Sheizkh Zayed Foundation and other philanthropic organizations. It has nationwide coverage, with surgical and other services being carried out at all levels. Community eye care services are well structured, making eye care very accessible.