Dr. Gelson Reyes, In-Charge at Arbeiter Samariter Bund (ASB) Clinic has disclosed that the decision by the Ministry of Health to close the German clinic is very surprising, abrupt and hasty, arguing that such a decision will no doubt have an adverse effect on both patients and dozens of Gambians working at the clinic.
The Ministry of Health on Tuesday, October 8th issued a press statement informing the general public that Arbeiter Samariter Bund (ASB) Clinic at Latrikunda has been closed with immediate effect and as such all clinical activities at the health facility has been stopped until further notice.
Ministry of Health further stated that the decision was made after a series of complications in patients referred from the clinic resulted in lives lost. The deaths were established to be due to deficiency in the management of the cases and hence the management of ASB Clinic. The clinic was urged to cease operations and transfer all in-patients to the nearest appropriate health facilities.
“To my knowledge I am not aware of any complaint or letter from the Ministry of Health to notify us (ASB Clinic) that we should cease operation in so and so date with very clear reasons attached. To me the decision is very surprising, abrupt, and hasty which could have an adverse effect on the livelihood of patients and dozens of Gambians working at this clinic,” says Dr. Reyes.
Dr. Reyes, a trained Cuban specialist in gynecology and obstetrics, said the decision came at a time when the clinic was preparing to carry out an operation, more than 30 women waiting for screenings and tests, as well as a hall full of patients waiting for treatment, revealing that when it was announced all these patients started crying.
ASB In-Charge denies the decision to close the clinic came from the Ministry of Health, observing that it might emanate from people who are bent on seeing the clinic fall apart. He said the Ministry of Health must be well aware that before any decision to close down the operation of a health facility is made a thorough assessment of that facility must be conducted to substantiate any allegation.
“Knowing or unknowing this decision has already put the livelihoods of more than 50 of our staff and their families in danger. Most of the staff have been working here for more than 20 years, sending them out of a job becomes an issue altogether,” a distress In-Charge told Chronicle.
For Dr. Reyes, government allegations that a series of reported patient complications resulting in fatalities are false and misleading. According to Dr. Reyes, the allegation makes references to only one case that happened last year due to the patient’s reluctance to disclose his status. He said doctors can only do so much when patients hide their sickness from them.
“I feel so sad to see this clinic close down. This is the clinic where I have been receiving treatments for the past year. I have never experienced any difficulties or complications here so far, the nurses have always been caring and friendly to me anytime I come for treatment,” said Bejay Jallow.
Madam Njie, told The Chronicle that she was at the clinic to attend the weekly immunization that it offers to children, arguing that government should have notified the clinic before any harsh decision was to be taken.
Maimuna Baldeh, also a patient who has been receiving treatment from the clinic for the past three years appealed to the Gambian government to consider the plea from women who go to the clinic, adding that hundreds of women visit the clinic weekly for treatments and closing the clinic will increase the sufferings of these women and their children.
”I have been coming here for many years, but to my disappointment I came here today only to find out that the facility is closed down. I have never experienced any complications so far since I started getting treatment from this health facility,” an anonymous patient who drives from Tanji told this reporter.
She added: “I am really shocked with this decision from the Ministry of Health. I can argue anywhere that this clinic is one of the best in this country and I am challenging the Minister of Health to launch a thorough investigation into this issue immediately so that this clinic can continue the good work they have been doing for us”.
She said she has been frequenting the ASB Clinic since 2008 and delivered all three of her children at the clinic safely without any complication.