The Gambian government said it had ordered blood bags from neighboring Senegal, which are due to arrive in Banjul today Monday, to help resolve the country’s blood shortage crisis. The revelation was made by Momodou Lamin Jammeh, the Spokesman of the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital in Banjul. Mr. Jammeh was reacting to news stories published by the Freedom Newspaper over the weekend reporting about a massive shortage of blood bags at the nation’s main referral hospital. Similar shortage of blood bags was reported in Government hospitals around the country.
“We have placed an order. The orders are delayed, but they will arrive on Monday, according to the Chief Pharmacist; they will arrive on Monday. But we have a small quantity of stock that we are using now,” Mr. Jammeh remarked.
Blood bags are used to support patients in need of blood before or after surgeries. As a result, the government had to place an emergency order to purchase blood bags from Senegal.
“The situation is unfortunate, but we are working tirelessly to solve the problem. The Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Central Medical Stores is doing their best to getting these blood bags on Monday. As we speak, they are already shipped, and they are on their way coming. We have an emergency order from Senegal,” he added.
Jammeh said some of the blood bags they have in stock are expired. Hence, they decided not to use it for health reasons. He says the blood bag shortage is impacting on patient care at the hospital.
“We have a stock of blood bags, but their expiry date is this week; so, we decided not to use them. We have placed an order. We had a small quantity of blood bags that we are using in the hospital now. But hopefully, on Monday, the problem will be solved,” said the Hospital Spokesperson.
“Of course, it will slow down our operations because blood is a very important component in our services. It will affect our services,” he added.
The Gambian Resident Doctors Association have been calling for a total revamping of the country’s health sector. For example, they said some of the basic medical supplies that should facilitate their work, are not available in the hospitals. The doctors recently even had to embark on a sit-down strike to showcase their grievances.
President Adama Barrow responded in kind in a recent Cabinet reshuffle by firing the Health Minister Saffie Lowe Ceesay and her Permanent Secretary.
Notwithstanding, according to one Gambian medical doctor, the situation is getting from bad to worse. The doctor said patients, who have been scheduled to undergo surgeries had to take the risk or simply have to go without blood, as bags are not available.
Meanwhile, a consignment of medical drug supplies has arrived at the Port of Banjul. The drugs were ordered in 2017, according to one Gambian doctor. He said the four containers are still sitting at the port and have not been cleared by the government for distribution.
Written By Pa Nderry M’Bai