On Monday 21 July 2015, the Medical Research Council Unit, The Gambia handed over the rehabilitated overhead Water Systems and Borehole to Fajikunda Major Health Centre.
As the Borehole is the main source of water for the health centre and the community of Fajikunda, it will go a long way to provide long lasting solution to the current water problem at the centre.
The ceremony was attended by Dr Samba Ceesay, Director of Health Services Technical, Ramatoulie Jobe, head of Fajikunda Health Centre, Professor Beate Kampmann, Theme Leader for Vaccines & Immunity, Dr Ed Clarke, Head of Infant Immunology, Dr Olubukola Idoko Clinical Trial Coordinator and Paediatrician, staff of Fajikunda Health Centre, The Fajikunda Community and MRC Staff.
Speaking at the ceremony, Dr Samba Ceesay, Director of Health Services Technical, hailed MRC for its contribution towards the development of health in the Gambia in different ways, such as the provision of training for medical personals and the provision of essential drugs to the Health Centre. “The most commendable gift today is that the water issue at Fajikunda is resolved and all thanks to MRC” said Dr Ceesay. “This will go a long way in easing the constraints of staff and patients and improve the general well-being of the centre. He noted that the work of MRC in the Gambia in collaboration with the Gambia government has contributed immensely to change in health policies, globally.
Ramatoulie Jobe head of Fajikunda Health Centre said, commended The Unit for its contribution, prior to the rehabilitation of the Borehole, “the MRC has contributed immensely to the development of the Health Centre which includes, building public toilets as well as conducting staff trainings, supply of medical equipment, drugs, stationeries, offices furniture and computers. More so, several trials have been successfully conducted by the MRC at Fajikunda Health Centre with the support of the Centres Clinical Staff”. These trials have benefited the Gambian health system immensely, she added.
Prof Beate Kampmann, Theme Leader for Vaccines & Immunity at the MRC Unit said” I am really happy that the two most powerful interventions for the health of children, pregnant women and the community at large have come together here today: vaccines and water. After conducting many important vaccine trials together with the staff at the Fajikunda Health Centre, we are pleased to be able to support the safe water supply, which no doubt will make life easier for patients and staff and is another essential ingredient for the delivery of safe healthcare to all.”
Dr Ed Clarke, Head of Infant Immunology said polio was a disease once feared, worldwide for causing irreversible paralyses and sometimes death, mainly in children under five years. He added that global efforts to eradicate polio led to the formation of the global polio eradication initiative by World Health Assembly of the WHO in 1988 as the main goal was to ensure the availability of a polio vaccine. As a result, Dr Clarke said the number of polio cases worldwide has declined from 350,000 in 1988 to about only a few hundred cases last year. There has been no case of polio reported in the Gambia since the year 2000 and no case of wild type polio anywhere in sub Saharan Africa for almost a year.
Dr Olubukola said “pneumonia remains a leading cause of death in the developing world as mainly children under 5 years die each year from the disease”, many of these is due to the bug Strep pneumonia. The current vaccine we use which is effective against 13 types of this bug comes in a preparation that has just one dose of the vaccine in each vial. Having a vial with many doses in one vial will help reduce delivery costs. Such a vaccine produced by Pfizer after discussions with GAVI) was recently tested here at Fajikunda Health Centre. We are very excited to report that the vaccine was non-inferior to the current preparation for all 13 types of the bug. The reactions (like fever and swelling) reported after the vaccine was given, were also similar for the 2 groups with very few mild reactions reported overall. These excellent results suggest that we may have this new preparation of the vaccine for use in the near future.