The Smiling Coast Of Africa

The Gambia is a small West African nation that is almost entirely surrounded by neighboring Senegal except for a narrow Atlantic coastline. It is the smallest country in mainland Africa with a population of just under 3 million people. Nicknamed “The Smiling Coast of Africa”, the country is home to a friendly, welcoming, and diverse people.

As is the case in most sub-Saharan African countries, The Gambia’s health system is faced with major challenges in meeting the basic healthcare needs of its citizens.

The 2021 Gambia Annual Service Statistical Report noted:

The health sector, despite remarkable achievements registered, is still under great pressure due to ..[several].. factors: high population growth rate, increasing morbidity and mortality, inadequate financial and logistic support, deterioration of physical infrastructure, inadequacies of supplies and equipment, shortage of adequate and appropriately trained health personnel, high attrition rate as well as an inadequate referral system. Poverty and ..[illiteracy].. have led to inappropriate health seeking behaviors thus contributing to ill-health.

With a life expectancy of 62.3 years, The Gambia is ranked in the bottom 30 countries worldwide. Maternal mortality rates, largely the result of hemorrhage and sepsis, remain at 290 deaths per 100,000 live births. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 40% of these deaths could be prevented with better anesthesia services and improved perioperative care.

The WHO recommends a minimum of 5 trained anesthesia providers per 100,000 population. Currently, 80% of African nations do not meet this recommendation; The Gambia having less than 70 anesthesia providers serving the entire country. In addition, while these providers are highly motivated, they often practice in austere environments with minimal supplies, support, and training.

Roots Health Gambia is focusing on improving anesthesia delivery and perioperative services in The Gambia. Roots Health Gambia promotes mentorship and networking opportunities as well as medical missions that provide care to those in need and training opportunities for healthcare providers.

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