Leave Health Minister Alone; Heap Blame On National Audit Office

Why should one get angry or feel targeted when the truth is being said and that one is not a complicit of drug stealing. What the minister of health Dr. Saffie Lowe-Ceesay said about the Gambian young doctors is not something new or taken out from the blues. Life Saving medicines have been missing in our hospitals and health centers for as long as one can remember. This shouldn´t come as a shock to anyone. The minister was obliged to take the leaf out of her mouth and speak her mind on something we all very well know exist. Ministerial rule is something we should discourage and avoid at all cost in our new found democracy. In this particular case it happens to be the health sector but the reality is that corruption is everywhere in our society and institutions. The sooner we acknowledge and grasp with the reality the better for our new born nation. Let us for God and Heaven sake stop putting our heads in the sand pretending we are saints and that everything is fine when, in fact, we are really ruining our nation. How on earth can patients go to our national health facilities only to be referred to private drug stores for their prescriptions? This has been happening in the Gambia for too long; stealing drugs is something the minister said she can attest to as a former PS. If one’s conscience tells him/her that you don’t steal drugs I see no reason of being angry by the statement from the health minister. In the same vein, if your conscience tells you that you are in fact engaged in stealing medicines from poor patients, then you should stop it because you are the one the minister is addressing.

It is irrelevant in this case to distinguish or be precise as many will argue that the minister does. What is important here is that medicines are missing in our health facilities and that is not OK, no matter who is responsible for the crime. To my view, the entire Gambia Resident Doctors Association should have taken a collective responsibility with all its members and see to it that the practice of stealing drugs ceases. So far no one denies or rebuffs the minister’s statement hence the practice and habit of medicine embezzlement exist. Who doesn´t steal medicine is absolutely irrelevant in this case because the practice has to come to an end. Period! IT IS NEVER OK. Remember, we are talking of tax payers’ money being used to buy medicines which are in turn stolen by some unpatriotic Gambian doctors who are paid by the same tax payers. That is an irony. As a true citizen of the Gambia one becomes very sorry to hear about such practices in our health sectors. You get more saddened when you see some people defending the young doctors with the argument that “not all young doctors are involved in the practice.” What difference does it make if one doctor or two doctors steal medicines from needy patients? Does that justify the practice? NO, stealing or embezzling public property is never justified and is punishable by law.

Now to our Auditor General or as I like to call it Gambia National Audit Office. For those who don´t know this is the office that should be the eyes and ears of the Gambian tax payers. Does this office do its job right? The answer to that is an emphatic NO. The statement from the minister of health should, in fact, have come from the office of the Auditor General hence my point for not endorsing Ministerial rule. All Gambian public institutions should be audited by the Auditor General whose main role is to ensure that our tax money is being utilized accordingly. This is mandated by the law. Should the Auditor General do his job as mandated by law, no single institution in the Gambia today will pass the exam. They are all corrupt to the core. I am sorry to say this but it is the reality. The Auditor General should have a helicopter view of all state institutions and report their findings to the authorities who in turn will take necessary actions. In the new Gambia we should stop praising and honoring our thieves, especially the ones within the government and the public service. We as a nation should always get the best services out of our tax monies. The Auditor General should have blown the whistle in the case of medicine scandal and not the minister. This is what happens when you have a ministerial rule in a democracy.

Let´s play with the idea that the Office of the Auditor General was the one who came out with the minister’s statement that “When you talk about corruption in the health system we all know how it is…These young doctors that will just go and practice pharmaceutics, some of them have opened their own pharmacies with the resources that we have. I am very sure of what I am saying because I was the PS”.

My question then is who will resign and who will apologize to who? Because the Office of the Auditor General has executed its job mandated as by law. Their job is to come out with their findings to the government and if that happens to be the health sector where medicines have been missing so be it. The next step is up to the authorities. The minister is not mandated by law to say those statements but someone has to say if the Office of the Auditor failed in their duties. We should stop putting things under the carpet no matter how sensitive they might be. It is the new Gambia for God sake.
Corruption should not be encouraged in any form in this new Gambia. It should be discouraged at all cost and combat on all levels of our society. If we all do that we will then achieve the Gambia we all dream of.
I look forward to seeing a corrupt free Gambia.

Alhagi Touray




  2. Luntango (Degaleh Wagh, Tabaa Bung Bang Yekumofo)

    Doctors, Back 2 Work, Please.

    Dear Gambian Doctors,

    I think yours was a righteous stand insisting on “due process” before professionals are tarred with the brush of thievery. The Minister’s statement was bound to offend. But now the Minister has gracefully apologised in clear and unambiguous words:-

    “I apologise to anyone who may have been offended by the statement”

    I now urge our professional to equally gracefully accept that Ministerial apology humbly offered and return to work the hallowed task of caring for their patients.

    It is a learning process in The New Gambia’s democratic dispensation for everyone and I am sure that the relationship between the Minister and the doctors will resume without any rancour or ill-will.

    In a reply to my friend Maxs here at KairoNews six days ago, I put it this way:-

    “The Minister should have pointed fingers at the ENTIRE healthcare system for extensive corruption instead of singling out young Doctors. We cannot declare ALL young doctors guilty as the Minister seems to have done here. But I think from your statement above we agree. All the Minister needs to do is apologise to the young doctors and move on – I agree with you that resignations are NOT necessary for these problems caused by mere semantics”.

    God Bless All,

    Dida Halake,
    London UK.