by Basidia M. Drammeh.
The alarming maternal mortality rate in Gambia’s hospitals and clinics is heart-wrenching and a cause of great concern. The factors underlying maternal mortality range from incompetence, blood shortage to medics’ negligence, some of whom are reported to be interns. Pregnancy and childbirth have become synonymous with a death sentence.
Social media platforms, particularly Facebook, are inundated with images of babies who have lost their mothers at childbirth. Online radio stations have equally amplified the message in recent times. The worrying trend has prompted a group of concerned activists to set up a movement called Gambian Women’s Lives Matter with the sole aim of raising public awareness about the issue and cajoling Government authorities into action by ensuring safety for expectant mothers. The movement organized a protest march last September to this effect, but no government official was at hand to show support. The authorities had been on the defensive, suggesting that the matter was overreported. The Minister of Health Ahmadou Samateh told the lawmakers in reaction to the public outcry over the issue last September that: “Comparatively, Gambia is not doing so badly” arguing that maternal mortality is on the decline In the country.
Following recent repeated cases of maternal mortality and unprecedented public outrage over the Government’s apparent inaction, Minister Samateh seems to have a change of heart amid renewed calls on the Government to act on the alarming maternal mortality in the country, revealing, as reported in Standard newspaper today, that the government will set up a national committee to investigate every death that happens in both public and private health centres to ensure health care providers did their best before a patient died. The minister was, however, keen to underline that the move is unrelated to the recent public outcry over maternal mortality.
We hope that the committee is set up as soon as possible and fully empowered to address this grave national issue before more innocent lives are lost.