The governments of Japan and The Gambia on Friday signed and launched two anti-Ebola projects to support the country's preparedness against the hugely dreaded killer disease.
The projects are, 'The Project for the Reinforcement of Prevention and Control of Febrile Illness' and 'Support to National Ebola Prevention and Preparedness in The Gambia.'
His Excellency Mr Takashi Kitahara, Ambassador of Japan to Senegal and Omar Sey, Minister of Health and Social Welfare signed a grant agreement of about USD95, 000 for the purchase of three made-in-Japan thermo graphic equipment to be installed at the Banjul International Airport.
Also, there was the handover of the Japan-backed 'Support to National Ebola Prevention and Preparedness in The Gambia' project planned and implemented by the UNDP totaling USD1, 600, 000.
The project was launched in March 2015 to complement the Gambia's National Virus Disease Plan for a period of one year. The principal objective of the project is to ensure proper coordination of the preparedness and outbreak response activities at all levels and to strengthen national capacities for Ebola prevention and preparedness among health workers at central and community levels.
The three Japan made thermo graphic equipment according to Ambassador Takashi Kitahara, will contribute to preventing the virus from entering into The Gambia and avoid the spread of the virus from The Gambia.
“The grant to the Gambia's Ebola prevention is not my government's first intervention in Africa. Japan has brought assistance to West African countries like Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, directly or through the United Nations to the tune of USD184, 000, 000 over the years since the outbreak of Ebola,” Kitahara said.
“The Gambia is an Ebola-free country but the country has been affected economically with the tourism sector taking a big hit,” he added.
In her handover speech, Ms Ade Mamonyane Lekoeje, the UNDP resident representative, said the outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease in 2013 ravaged many parts of West Africa running though 2014 and 2015.
She added: “It is the largest, longest, most severe and most complex outbreak in the nearly four-decade history of the disease. The disease has infected and killed thousands of people and caused massive disruptions to peoples' lives and the economies of most West African countries, even the Ebola-free Gambia. Despite efforts by governments of the affected countries and the international community, the impact of the epidemic is massive.
“At the advent of the Ebola outbreak, the government of The Gambia took a firm stance to protect the country and its people against the Ebola pandemic. A national preparedness and response plan was developed, and an aggressive resource mobilisation drive was launched. The response of the United Nations, the government of Japan, the World Bank and other partners was prompt.
“This and the vigilance of the Ministry of Health under the leadership of Omar Sey resulted in the mobilisation of over three million dollars to keep The Gambia protected. However, despite the Ebola-free status of The Gambia, we have not been spared from the outbreak. Tourism which is a major contributor to the economy was severely affected during the 2014 season, resulting to 60 percent cancelation of hotel reservations.”
On his part, Omar Sey the Minister of Health and Social Welfare said the ceremony is timely as it will further help “in our quest to maintain the status quo and build on the already registered success in Ebola”.
He continued: “The Gambia has still maintained her Ebola-free status, through massive sensitisation and community engagement endeavours coupled with intensified border surveillance at various points of entry. I want to seize this moment to encourage and urge Gambians not to relent as the fight for Ebola needs concerted efforts hence there should not be any room for complacency.”