Prior to gaining independence in 1965, The Republic of The Gambia hurdled its fair shares of trials and tribulations. In 1869, the nation, then called Bathurst, was divided into the following five Districts:
- “Soldier Town”: Place of residence for the pensioners from the West Indian Regiments and Royal Africa Corps.
- “Jolof Town”: Most of the artisans, mechanics and people of the “Wolof” Ethnic Group resided in that particular district.
- “Moka” or “Mocam Town”: Housed the poorest residences of the Nation, notably immigrant laborers.
- “Melville Town”: Where the earlier settlers from the “Jola” tribe were later replaced by the “Akus”.
- “Portuguese Town”: “Mulato” descendants of African and Portuguese heritage occupied that side of town.
In 1869, the “Moka District” was renamed “Half-Die” due to the cholera outbreak that claimed 1,162 lives out of the 4,000 inhabitants of Bathurst at the time. Proper health facility infrastructures were scarce in those days to cater to such pandemics.
According to the World Health Organization, in 2016, The Gambia had a population of 2,039,000 and the total expenditure on health as per GDP was 7.3%. The life expectancy in 2016 was 61.19 years.
Today we have a new breed of threat knocking at our door with the Coronavirus (COVID-19). There are currently 258,479 registered cases worldwide and about 10,544 deaths recorded as of March 20th, 2020 according to the worldometers.info website. The first case was announced in The Gambia on Tuesday, March 17th, 2020. The woman returning from the United Kingdom is currently under treatment at the Medical Research Institute of the Gambia (MRC).
These facilities, the single largest investment in medical research in a low and middle income country, are one of two research units present in Sub-Saharan Africa and implanted by the Medical Research Council UK. Within its confines, high quality research facility platforms and an outstanding level of scientific expertise make it stand out amongst its peers. With a population density of 97 persons per square kilometer, the Republic of the Gambia houses a three tier based health service delivery system: 3 Hospitals, 36 Health Facilities at the Secondary Level and 492.
Health Posts at the Primary Level.
Where is the rollercoaster heading with the residents of the 3rd and fragile Republic of the Gambia? Are the citizens and the guests of The Gambia contributing their fair share of preventive measures? What is the economic outlook to foresee for the generations to come?
The Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) managed to raise approximately 8.5 Million Dalasis in a telethon organized in collaboration with Qcell. Many private entities in The Gambia pledged their donations to enable the communities at large to face this pandemic in its early stages as model citizens. Furthermore, His Excellency Adama Barrow stated in an address to the nation that the Government had voted on a budget of 500 Million Dalasis to face the crisis.
On a global scale, experts are warning that the recession the world economies were currently entering could be worse than the recession of 2009. Henceforth, the G20 in a Virtual Summit on Thursday pledged $5 Trillion USD to assist nations around the globe. Many are governments and institutions worldwide that have also engaged in fund mobilization or quantitative easing schemes.
The dismantling of the roller coaster is being mapped piece by piece as different measures emerge to aid the riders. Many will be the generations to remember this chapter in the history of mankind.