Archive for the ‘Human Rights’ Category


March 14, 2018


Part 10: Politics and Education

To mistake education for classroom schooling is an error committed by most of us without our realising it. Education is social property while schooling up to higher education standards belongs to institutions.

Everywhere in the world education precedes schooling and extends beyond school. Those that control schooling decide when to start or finish. They peg it at a price and dish our so much for anyone willing to pay in measured terms while education is beyond measure.
Social education on the other is free. You learn your first language by free association with people around. Not needing to call anyone your teacher, knowledge of social reality develops over time.

Schooling does not register or give marks for what we learn from social education as children or afterwards. Animals get education without being schooled.
One interesting contrast or rather big contradiction of measured schooling (the politics of education) is the fact that where two or more persons share equal level of certification some of them prove to be more knowledgeable than others. Viewed from critical perspective only education provides knowledge while schooling serves the purpose of politics.
If we continue to bank on only knowledge supposed to be delivered to us by occasion of schooling, the balance of right thinking diminishes to such levels that society will be populated by more educated fools over longest period.
Governments have taken up the gigantic task of managing everyone including those opposing them. That requires providing the enabling environment where society gets further education beyond schooling.

Educating a population for enhancing human capital gainful resourcefulness is a task beyond classroom schooling. Everyone is born as an input to society with potential to add value for optimal shared gains. In life some people grow to be more resourceful than others due to various reasons including barriers and facilities along the way.

Education is not all about numbers

Building schools and extra classroom blocks is not enough. Educational standards need to fulfil quality requirements for competitive advantage in all areas of competence. Providing good education needed for economic advancement is therefore not mere number gains.

Education planning is best done in response to much needed development priorities. Are our politicians giving us enough? Mass awareness creation can be acquired by collective engagement of whole society.  Schools by their limitations may not be doing enough in giving back to society the level of sophistication that liberates all. Everyone talks about politics as though no-go area. Political education in schools and higher education is more geared to preparing for exams than motivation to face real life movers of the system who occupy key political positions.

Job creation and economic advancement is not all about compiling neatly presented statistical data. It takes real people to do the required jobs. They need education which is not always provided by schooling. A society with more educated persons poses greater challenges to any political order.
Constraints of not being able to get the youths employed is no good reason for any political order to cut down on education. Often there is dilemma regarding where priorities are highest. Building classrooms, roads, or investment on educating a population?
An enlightened society becomes sophisticated for politicians to handle without pain. There is no easy ride without being challenged. Education goes with huge cost and higher gains not only by way of how much money is involved. Demands are high and too numerous for the regime to handle with no quick fix solutions readily at hand.
Creating jobs to keep the growing educated members of society gainfully occupied does not come about by elaborate plans on paper alone. The enabling economic environment creates opportunities for thriving entrepreneurs and energetic youth population to engage in revenue generating ventures while serving society.

Promoting Enterprise Culture to Grow an Enterprising Population

Beyond numbers and neatly compiled reports, education is meant to enhance not just employable skills required by commerce, industry, and office jobs. It takes an enterprising population to propel the economic engine.
By robust policy provisions, development and promotion of enterprise culture can be achieved. That mindset is what motivates people to engage in small and medium enterprises thereby generating taxable revenue to boost the economy.
To create the enabling economic environment requires clearly conceived plans and better policies put in place by government.  Boosting employment in the private sector yields higher gains through economic engagement capable of generating taxable revenue base. Goods and services delivered in variety will give consumers wider choices.
Increased demand and higher spending propels the velocity of cashflow in faster circulation. Some businesses become source of supply for others. In similar way other businesses serve as chain of distribution for those in the production line.

It takes serious commitment from government to get the private sector actors motivated by providing incentives while promoting entrepreneurship.
The education needed in development and promotion of entrepreneurship is not what classroom schooling provides. That is done through achievement motivation and the enterprising drive of goal-oriented individuals in society.
An enterprising population does not spring from wider space. It grows out of a desire. Social interplay creates the platform for creating commercial awareness leading to growth of enterprise culture.

Social learning provides better occasion for motivation of enterprise engagement far beyond what schooling does. Informal education does not require classroom schooling. We all take so much from home before setting eyes on our first school teachers.  Enterprise culture stimulates employment creation through entrepreneurship. With government backing the potential for growth of informal sector business can be realised most gainfully.

More money buying weapons and less for education

During planning and budgeting some governments allocate more money in buying arms or paying for maintenance of the security outfit than what’s left on education, health, social welfare and wealth creation put together.
Looking at the amount of public money spent on weapon power, you wonder whose security we are talking about.
Wider society tax payers experience more insecurity in everyday life than the few that are voted as political leaders. All that is cost needing to be justified. Armed robbery and other forms of forceful dispossession that individuals suffer at risk life tends to be out of control.
Dangerously armed individuals walking free is of high risk proportion. It is hard to make sense how possession of lethal weapons extends beyond the power of those voted for protecting collective interest.

Clearly, there is in no justifiable interest keeping entire society under threat of gun violence. Ask for an explanation and those in possession of lethal weapons will call it self-defence. Yes, because the national security outfit is sustained with huge financial government backing, therefore everyone thinks they need personal protection too.  Fear of being killed tends to embolden individuals to seek personal protection leading to increased gun possession. Schools can contribute to social education on security. That makes the job of teachers much crucial to social transformation.
Highly motivated teachers will serve instrumental role towards creation of an enlightened population needed for enhancing political awareness and becoming bankable economic resource.
Teachers work harder than they are paid
During political debates in parliament there is more talk about education than commitment to deliver what is required. Salaries of teachers hardly top the agenda. Most talk is about statistics. Everything is reduced to chunks of data.
Such key stakeholders like teachers are routinely talked about and not invited to join the debate. Teachers in every society deserve more than we see them being remunerated.

In public schools, teachers are counted as civil servants. Going by the volume and complexity of their workload, teachers commit more efforts and time than the ordinary civil servants do.
Apart from chalking and talking, teachers spend more time after working hours marking or drawing up lesson plans. Entrusted with children of diverse background and character, teachers deal with each of them in their special needs.
Society owes teachers more than politicians have so far demonstrated. In addition to teachers’ unions, the voice of society in promoting welfare of this instrumental embodiment can be louder. We cannot leave the welfare of teachers being handled without rendering them what is due.
Politics of education is loaded with an agenda of lofty aims needing proper checks to ensure tangible evidence-based impact. Teachers are such tall pillars of society that cannot be dwarfed without consequences. Pay teachers well and give them better incentives to boost their total welfare.

Governance and Politics beyond School Subjects

To confine the study of politics as mere school subject is not enhancing enough. Regarding how politicians are being empowered to decide for each of us everyone in society deserves knowing more and better.  When students debate about politics, it is mostly for the nicety of grammar and eloquence. More often they are not thinking of taking politics head on. Out of school or from higher education, every other job becomes target less political occupation.
Just like smaller number of business students at university have ambition to be hired rather than create their own enterprise being self-employed and hire others. Similarly, only few of those who show interest in school or higher education political debates choose to take up full time responsibility as genuinely representative of the people.
Political power is connected to almost everything daily life evolves around. From wealth creation (fundamental to the national economy) health care and maintenance, agriculture, trade. Industry, mobility, education, society, law and order, security among others.
National and personal security cannot be properly maintained without serious commitment on part of the political power players. Security they provide for those representing the people is far beyond what the rest of society have.
Governments consider weapon power as measurement of their might. Individuals in society reflect similar way. The danger is that if you possess an instrument there is propensity to use it. In that scheme of things by spending on weapons, governments invariably prepare for war. Individuals also think of attacking or being attacked by someone else. Reliance on gun power or weapons turned into a generational menace in some countries.
This generation is already too much enslaved by gun power. The next and succeeding generations may want to bank on mindpower for a more progressive and by extension higher advanced economic world order.
Reforms in global education will require preparing society to be more productive without fear of being attacked. Politicians have lot of responsibility coming up with policies that will detox society from this destructive gun power mentality. Until now, the political will to keep society safe is below all expectations.

Gun culture is a challenge for governments the world over. Educating society about politics and economic reality extends beyond what schooling provides.  Maybe the next generation will get different education and prefer weapons be replaced by production of what brings more economic advancement. Political rethinking over gun power or weapons is an educational pursuit that cannot be confined in classrooms. Entire society requires to be schooled though not in the classroom concept of teaching without learning.
Political education outside School
The population is not adequately informed about any rationale on what appears as unjustifiable budgetary allocation especially with increased spending on weapons. Taking political education outside the classroom will bear extensive rewards beyond the basic objective of schooling for examination requirements.

With everyone being affected in vast ways, the political discourse is central to our livelihood by occasion of diverse yet conflicting interests.  Political activism is more about awareness creation than partisan interest drive. Along the journey, there appears to be more passengers than drivers. In their total, political drivers and passengers have more excess baggage shared among themselves.  Advancing the agenda calls for an inclusive engagement of those long left out in the dark. To assume that only flag bearers care more than the marginalised compact majority can be considered as alienation.

Bottom line and truth of the whole matter holds that politics has deep rooted economic life line which cannot be taken for granted without consequences.  Not to join the debate means the rest will continue talking about you and their decision becomes all binding social contract affecting everyone with far reaching economic implications needing great consideration. Failing to decide is by extension a decision of its own. The choice is yours.


March 7, 2018


Part 9: Politics of Development

Using development projects to gain political capital is common tactic for capturing votes. In the absence of proper consultation to determine real needs of people, politically motivated projects will not put food on the table or bring much needed better living conditions.
Deprived and hard-to-reach communities are not always enjoying much from the government. Quite often they are not consulted in fairest deal of development partnership.
Instead, projects are conceived without them knowing what is going on. Whenever some government and Non-Governmental Organisation NGO agents begin their treks word goes around that another project is about to come.
Fleet of project vehicles and motorbikes are seen running around blowing more dust and leaving behind people hoping for what may never come any time soon.
White elephant projects are glaring symbols associated with politics of mass deception that government and NGOs come up with.
Everything turns out to be development politics or politics of deception where real felt-needs are not fulfilled. What follows relates to how that is schemed.
Stakeholder engagement
People are sick, hungry, and without good clothing. Their immediate felt-needs and highest in priority ranking would have included preventive health services, nutrition, and perhaps education for the young.
Experts think they know what is best for communities. Based on their wrong perception and failing to make proper consultation, projects are designed and presented as book knowledge dictates.
At end of one project cycle other projects line up. Nothing seems to work while the blame game shifts all fingers on communities lacking knowledge.
Development agents representing government and NGOs compete for recognition as they seek to make their presence felt at various deprived communities.
Eventually most projects fail. Even when you think they have succeeded, it takes very short time before everything comes to complete stop. Community facilities and producer schemes diminish over time leading to final closure.
Nobody takes responsibility as initial community engagement fails to include succession planning, Failure of one community project provides the occasion for others to be identified.
Unless experts consult communities as key partners in development, any projects implemented on paper work without ascertaining real felt-needs will fail like others before and those after them.
Felt-needs of the people
Priority ranking of genuine needs is different from drawing up a wish list of so many wants. People have insatiable desire for possession and will pile up so much even what is good for nothing.
To ascertain the felt-needs of communities and individuals requires asking them. No expert has the superior gift of genius to determine what people really need without seeking to know from them.
Asking communities and individuals to talk about everything they want will end with a long roll of wish list nobody can provide for. It is therefore most helpful to give some guidelines regarding how felt needs are separated from numerous wants.
Through sensitisation and group thinking, communities and individuals requiring project support will undertake their realistic needs assessment.
By engaging people and communities in the task of identifying their own needs, the journey to delivering projects in response to those felt needs begins with right steps.
Feasibility Study
Expression of felt needs by people and communities does not readily make a case to conclude project feasibility. Other variables are taken into consideration. To determine feasibility is measured along key lines of enquiry.
Getting the right mix is crucial not only in determining feasibility. Questions on viability arise where everyone is challenged to consider how viable the project venture becomes. Key to that line of enquiry is all about sustainability.
What happens in the long run after the project is implemented and delivered at completion stage requires clear mind mapping from the beginning.
Whether the project succeeds or fails, resources would have been committed and not retrievable. In that respect sustainability issues need to be given proper care and serious consideration.
Material, money and human capital inputs are required in right proportion. This is considered in the wider context of technical feasibility.
Before any further moves feasibility needs to be established on solid findings. When a project is not feasible due to deficiencies in material, money or human capital it means there is no point the venture. Getting the right balance of these key components is critical success factor in determining feasibility and viability of projects.
Human capital contribution is considered from various dimensions. Is there the required calibre of capable persons handling this project venture? That question refers to project agents and the people at community level who eventually ensure sustainability by their competent handling from start onwards.
In some communities, certain people of influence always take leading roles even where they may not be the most competent. There arise occasional conflicts of interest leading to bad results. It is therefore important that right people take up rightful roles based on competence rather than compromise. That is not always happening unfortunately. Wrong hands handling even the most readily feasible projects can lead to failure. Opinion leaders may have political influence while lacking the ability to deal with development schemes.
Misplaced priorities
During needs assessment priority ranking of competing demands can be helpful. With brain storming and clear mind mapping by focused group exercise project planning identifies needs. Participants may come up with very long list of what they initially identified as needs. In guided discussion, it may emerge that some of the items listed are more of general wants than genuine felt needs.
Participants are encouraged to rethink and see if everything listed will be considered as needed. That is when they will get to narrow down their demands in priority ranking of needs. Politically motivated provisions that communities don’t need amount to white elephant projects
Without succession plans, repeat failures become common in the experience of projects provided for mere political gains.
To prevent the situation of misplaced priorities, communities need to be consulted from early planning stages onwards. Thorough cost and benefit analysis will ensure that priorities are at the same giving people choices based on their expressed felt-needs.


December 12, 2017



I want to inform the general public that, there will be a massive demonstration at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hage on Friday the 15th of december 2017 between 15:00 – 17:00 to condemn black people being sold as slaves in Libya.
Our fellow black brothers and sisters getting sold in Libya and are made in to slaves. Our brothers and sisters are beaten, rapes and kill in Libya.

This brutal, cruel and barbaric behavior in Libya must stop immediately.
How many days, weeks, months does the international communities needs to talk about this inhuman behaviour happening in Libya before taking an actions.

The Arab world are the greatest hypocrites you can ever see on this earth. Their Abrab brothers and sisters are brutally treating our brothers and sisters in Libya. They fully knows about it but they keep their moutrh shut. We are hearing from the ECOWAS, the AU, the EU and the UN condemning it. They are having various talks about it to find the solution, but you HYPOCRITES are keeping quite and pretending that nothing is happening. You may call yourselves a muslim but i’ll not call you Arabs a MUMIN.

I am appealing to all the black brothers and sisters and our sympathisers to come and join this massive demonstraion on Friday, the 15th of december 2017 at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hage and condemn are brothers and sisters being made as slaves in Libya.

For more Information you can contact :

Lamin Saddam Sanyang tel 0654294166
Hon Demba Dem tel 0681841640
Or Alhagie Kijera tel 0619620082.

The venue of the demonstration will be :

Oude Waalsdorperweg 10
2597 AK, The Hague
The Netherlands.


October 5, 2017

Election ballots

Gambians in the Diaspora have issued a petition urging The Gambia’s Independent Electoral Commission to commence the process of enfranchising Gambians living abroad. The petition is available in the link below and consists of five points around the registration and voting process for Gambians abroad.

Voting Rights of Gambians Living Abroad Petition: Making it a Reality
After enduring twenty-two (22) years of dictatorship under the regime of former President Yahya Jammeh, the people of the Republic of The Gambia voted for a new president, President Adama Barrow, to lead the nation-rebuilding process of the New Gambia. Gambians living abroad played a key role in the struggle for justice and good governance that culminated in the formation of a coalition of seven political parties, which contested and won the presidential election that brought an end to Jammeh’s rule on 1st December 2016.

Although the right of every Gambian, resident at home or abroad, to vote in general elections is guaranteed in the Constitution of The Republic of The Gambia, the government under former President Jammeh failed to demonstrate the commitment and support that the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) required to discharge its mandate to register Gambians living abroad to vote, as prescribed under Section 11 of the Elections Act of The Republic of The Gambia. As a result, a large number of Gambians living abroad have been disenfranchised and denied the right to fully participate in the affairs of their country. The Gambia has now entered a new challenging phase, which all well-meaning Gambians, friends of The Gambia and the country’s development partners hope will set the foundation for a truly democratic country that fully subscribes to the universally accepted principles of good governance and transparency, to deliver peace and prosperity to the people of The Gambia. In this regard, the enfranchisement of Gambians living abroad is not only a right but a necessity for the consolidation of the democratic gains of the New Gambia. Like our Senegalese counterparts, Gambians living abroad should be allowed, without undue burden, to take part in elections at home.

Our Demands
We the undersigned respectfully demand of the IEC of The Republic of The Gambia to discharge, with absolute urgency, its constitutional duty to register Gambians living abroad to take part in the upcoming constitutional referendum and subsequent elections, in accordance with the Constitution and Section 11 of the Elections Act of The Gambia. Specifically:
1. We ask the IEC to announce a timeline for the registration of Gambians living abroad;
2. We ask the IEC to clearly spell out the registration process for Gambians living abroad;
3. We ask the IEC to announce the registration centres abroad, where Gambians living abroad shall be registered;
4. We ask the IEC to clearly spell out what documents Gambians living abroad would need in order to be registered to vote; and
5. We ask the IEC to clearly spell out how Gambians living abroad shall vote in elections and how votes cast outside the country shall be counted.


September 22, 2017

Mr. Sonko explained that their focus used to be on education but last year, they decided to concentrate on health, adding that in the near future they would have health education and nutrition as the key areas of development. He disclosed that they have spoken to some health professionals in the United States and non-profit organisations that serve third world countries with free medication and free health services.

He said they have reached an agreement to invite them to The Gambia with the help of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare who have given them approval to invite the health professionals to The Gambia. According to Mr. Sonko, the 20 health professionals would include doctors, surgeons, nurses and other health experts who would offer free services to Gambians from September 13 to 22, 2018. He further explained that the health professionals would specifically come to help Gambians, starting with Upper Niumi District. Dominica Sonko, CEO/Co-founder Big Dreams Inc. USA, said one of the conditions was to have transportation for logistical purposes for the health professionals while they are in The Gambia. Madam Sonko said if the mission is successful, it would be done yearly, adding that The Gambia would be the second country in West Africa after Senegal where the health professionals would be undertaking the mission.
She noted that the health professionals would bring along medicines and equipment to serve people at no cost, saying their minimum medicinal value is US$100, 000. Mrs. Sonko thanked the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare for allowing them to have such an initiative. She also thanked everyone for their support in making the initiative something promising.

Lamin Kujabi, Chief Executive Officer of Big Dreams Gambia Chapter, thanked Big Dreams Inc. USA for the great initiative, saying this was not the first time as they have been supporting education in The Gambia over the years. He pointed out that one could not have a good education without a good nutrition and health, and as such, the initiative would have a great impact, not only in the lives of the children but communities. He assured them that the vehicle would be used for its rightful purpose.
Hon. Omar Darboe, National Assembly Member for Upper Niumi District, said health, education and nutrition are the keys for the development of a nation, and as such, he thanked the donors for their support. He described the gesture as one way of complementing government’s efforts in their drive to bring health to the doorsteps of every Gambian, as well as education.
Hon. Darboe said government’s doors are open and then assured the organisation of government’s support and cooperation at all times. Pa Lamin Sawo, PRO and Coordinator Big Dreams Gambia chapter, also thanked Big Dreams Inc. for their support, saying they would continue to work hard in contributing to the health, nutrition and education of Gambians.


Courtesy: The Point


September 18, 2017


It is said “unreasonable demands often breathe bile into impotent rage, which soon turns rancid and bitter”. Thus, making one conclude that one is swimming against tempestuous waves of conspiracy. Anyone that defy your standpoint becomes a sellout. Unfortunately, being antiestablishment in new Gambian has become a swag-whether it is rooted on reasonable or unreasonable intent and purpose. On the other hand, celebrating the new government’s gains boxed as opportunistic. Honesty, however, instils no matter one’s proposition one must align himself or herself with factual truth even if it tests your person. Same is legit in holding a government accountable.

Dictatorship has been laid to rest with our concerted effort and desire to have a voice in how we are governed and by who. The Barrow leadership is everything that Jammeh never was. Does that make it perfect? Certainly not. Therefore, to help it perfect its imperfections, we must reasonably hold it to account by pointing out its omissions and substantiating our objection with corrective alternatives. For instance, even Foday Jawla who lays his life for the leadership without a second thought agrees it is fitting to replace the Jammeh cronies still on taxpayers’ cheques. In a nutshell, regime change must be complimented by systematic unfolding of system change. Without a complete system change desk on both institutional and practice changes the leadership efforts to achieve its goals will remain elusive. Evidence to my claim is plastered vividly on the ongoing commission of enquiry into Goloh Ajumah’s financial undercurrents. Goloh Ajumah was assisted to loot us by some public and private sector Gambians without any physical coercion. None so far has told the commission that s/he was physically forced to assist in the looting even after Goloh Ajumah left the country. If such person remains in the system, what guarantees do the Barrow leadership has to assure us that s/he will not continue to milk our national coffers?

The other area that the leadership needs to heavily invest in is cutting on unnecessary government expenditures. According to what they are telling us, they inherited empty coffers from Goloh yet some of them fly more than birds in the air. The huge entourage that travels with the leadership on government expenses must be scaled down to save us some Bututs. Fatou Camara has equally highlighted that GG vehicles frequent our streets far more than the cabbies. Such vehicles don’t run on water and what even makes it worse is great proportion of those journeys are not official. I still recollect Balfour Ankomah’s article “A Stranger in Banjul” published in New African Magazine many moons ago. He could not hide his dismay on how the Jawara leadership comfortably watched appalling state of Banjul given its size without much ado.

A similar grey area that needs fixing by the Barrow leadership is setting its priorities right. A classic example is the Tourism Ministry. What kind of Tourism is Hon Bah selling to the Chinese? Please don’t tell me it is health or conference Tourism. Can any sane Gambian foresee Chinese coming as tourists to Banjul? Added up to this is the unreasonable relocation of the Ministry of Interior. One could have understood if the Ministry was under potential threat at its former location or the whole of the quadrangle. Then it would have been advisable to disperse the ministries to avert one major attack on all of them given their proximity. Since Gambia is not expose to any targeted potential terror threat what is the logic and financial gain of relocating the Ministry?

Sulayman Jeng
Birmingham, UK


September 17, 2017

Ousainou Darboe, President Barrow and Chinese diplomat. Photo credit: Mantankara Konko

Gambian President Adama Barrow announced earlier this week that his government has entered into an agreement with Israeli company International Medical Services to build a €220 Million state of the art hospital in The Gambia. At this stage little is known about the agreement, however, it appears as though this is the type of investment that the country needs. Currently, many Gambians travel abroad for health services. According to IMS President Ovadia Yardena, her group is committed to promoting health tourism in The Gambia and will build a modern 350-bed hospital. Ms. Yardena has a good relationship with the Government of Equatorial Guinea.

On the IMS official website, it highlights their “long-standing activity” with the people of Equatorial Guinea. This led to the appointment of Ms. Yardena as an Honorary Consul of Equatorial Guinea for Israel. Equatorial Guinea is currently the country of refuge for former Dictator Yahya Jammeh and their President is one of the longest-serving Dictators in West Africa having taken power since 1979. This may be irrelevant to the subject matter but the involvement of an Israeli medical company IMS in The Gambia requires significant attention, especially from Gambian health professionals.

Medical tourism is when foreign nationals travel to other countries for cheaper, quality health services. These services range from cosmetic surgeries, low-cost dental services, and organ transplantation. These services are primarily provided by the private sector and payments are mostly out of pocket. Private healthcare providers have little incentive to consider population-wide based services, however, the general public must be served through public health interventions focused on the health needs of the entire population or population groups. Individual healthcare, population health, and public policy decisions must, therefore, be premised on best available evidence to avoid poor and inappropriate interventions. This article aims to highlight the pros and cons of health tourism and the involvement of Israel in this booming industry.

Pros of Medical Tourism
There are significant benefits in favor of medical tourism in The Gambia. Patients traveling to Gambia for treatment helps to clear backlogs in sending countries and eases pressure on the demand for health services in sending countries. New health services will now be available to Gambians that can afford it. Previously such services would have to be accessed abroad.

For receiving countries, it will create a new stream of revenue via private-public partnerships and helps to stimulate trickle-down economics by increasing the inward flow of foreign currency. The delivery of construction services for the €220 Million hospital will have a positive impact on the local economy especially if Gambian businesses can feature prominently in construction projects. Revenue generated can be used to improve public health services for the greater population.

Another advantage of health tourism is the importation of new medical technology. The presence of a state of the art hospital can help to provide best practice benchmarking for local health services. A state of the art medical facility will also attract the latest medical technology to The Gambia which could benefit the University and public health delivery.

A thriving health tourism industry will require experts to manage and run daily operations of the hospital. Although this is a private venture Gambian medical experts working abroad could be lured back home, thereby reversing the brain drain of the country’s medical professionals.

Cons of Medical Tourism
In receiving countries, medical tourism contributes to the creation of dual health delivery system, one for rich foreigners and one for poor locals. It leads also to draining of public sector funds and implementation of policies biased to commercial medicine. There are many risks around health tourism such as no congruent treatment and continuity and patient follow-ups. It opens up the possibility of illicit medical practices like illegal organ trade. There are many advantages and disadvantages but the most serious concern is that medical tourism encourages illicit organ trade in poor countries.

According to the WHO’s Veronica Riemer, “while most countries in the developed world have a legal system of oversight for organ transplantation, the fact remains that demand far outstrips supply. As a result, a black market has arisen in many poorer countries enabling those who can afford to buy organs to exploit those who are desperate enough to sell them. Sometimes, people travel to other countries specifically to buy organs they can’t find at home.”

The Royal Society of Medicine highlights the “many risks accompany the inclusion of organ transplant packages among the medical procedures sold to international patients. These dangers are magnified in countries where kidneys are purchased in underground economies or black markets. In these settings, promoting organ transplant packages to international patients’ risks escalating the number of kidneys purchased from poor citizens. Growing demand for transplants prompts organ brokers to increase the number of kidneys bought from impoverished individuals and sold to international patients.”
According to the Royal Society of Medicine study, in the Philippines, poor organ donors sell their kidneys for as little as $2,000. Proponents of commercial organ transplantation argue that poor individuals should be allowed to profit from selling a kidney. However, several studies indicate that the money poor individuals expect to obtain from selling a kidney goes to debt collectors.

Israeli Connection
In 2014 the New York Times published a report headlined “Transplant Brokers in Israel Lure Desperate Kidney Patients to Costa Rica”. The demand for organ transplants is on the rise and this demand will follow hospitals that offer cheap organ transplantation. Many organ transplant experts and journalists highlight that Israel contributes significantly towards the highest receivers of organ transplants. They also have a thriving organ brokerage business with networks across the globe.
According to “a Times analysis of major trafficking cases since 2000 suggests that Israelis have played a disproportionate role. That is in part because of religious strictures regarding death and desecration that have kept deceased donation rates so low that some patients feel they must turn elsewhere. “When someone needs an organ transplant, they’ll do everything in their power,” said Meir Broder, a top legal adviser to Israel’s Ministry of Health.”

In South Africa, the Guardian reports that “Netcare, which also runs hospitals in Britain, took part in an international scam that allegedly saw poor Brazilians and Romanians paid $6,000 (£3,840) for their kidneys to be transplanted to wealthy Israelis.” It’s reported that kidneys “were initially sourced from Israeli citizens, but later Romanian and Brazilian citizens were recruited as their kidneys were obtainable at much lower cost than those of the Israeli suppliers.” This took place in “South Africa’s biggest private hospital group” which admitted to “receiving R3.8m (£342,000) from an illegal organ trafficking scam that included the removal of kidneys from five children.”

Although there is no reason to assume that IMS has or will conduct organ transplantation in The Gambia, significant evidence indicates a heavy Israeli presence in the illegal organ trade. The Gambia has a youthful population and an unemployment problem. This makes them an easy target for organ hunters who usually target young healthy people. It’s not uncommon to read of migrants exploited for their organs. According to the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, “selling purchased organs to medical tourists, organ transplant facilities and transplant procedures should be excluded from medical tourism initiatives. Including organ transplants among the procedures marketed to international patients risks undermining health equity and reducing the number of citizens who have access to organ transplantation.” Countries like Israel that conduct organ transplant have strict rules incorporated in their Organ Transplant Act. This helps to regularise the activities of organ transplant and deters illegal black market activities.

Could it be that the Government, Health and Tourism Ministry, in particular, are not aware of the pros and cons of health tourism? A thorough review of the impact could help the executive make an informed decision for The Gambian people. Health tourism should not be promoted to the disadvantage of public health services. It is possible to strike a balance, however, the dangers of exploitation and the health impact it can have on poor people who donate their organs due to financial constraints can be significant and poses a moral and ethical problem.

Most countries that practice organ transplantation only permit altruistic organ donations and ban commercial donations. This often leads to a black market prompting experts to recommend legislating and regulating commercial organ donations to eliminate the black market. What is certain is that the Gambia will need the right legislation and vigilant monitoring if organ transplantation will be permitted. For The Gambia to make this public-private venture a success, commercial organ transplantation should be excluded from health tourism packages. The government will also need to designate revenue generated from this venture toward improving the delivery of public health services.

Even with rigorous monitoring and the right legislation, there are concerns raised by the Guardian that Israeli pathologists harvested organs without consent. This does not give confidence that Israeli Investors will play by the rules. After all, a €220 Million investment will be expected to generate significant profit.

By Yusef  Taylor, @FlexDan-YT