Sarjo Camara Singateh
In officially launching the dual hand washing device at the Institutes premises on Wednesday, 1st of October 2014, Dr. Samba Ceesay, the acting Director of Health Services who also doubles as the Ebola Focal Point in the country, said its introduction will go a long way in supporting the efforts aimed at preventing the spread of Ebola in the country.
He said the ministry has transformed the sanatorium as a treatment centre and they are making every effort to protect the country from the virus.
For his part, Mr. Momodou Njai, the Director of Health Promotion and Education, said Ebola continues to threaten lives globally and that the Gambia which is so far free of Ebola is joining the rest of the world in the Ebola prevention and awareness raising campaign to save lives and to better prepare the population against this deadly virus.
“With Ebola being ‘every body’s business’, the Gambia Technical Training Institute (GTTI) responded to the call by manufacturing a hand-washing facility to enhance the personal hygiene which is a fundamental pillar for infection control especially Ebola prevention,” said the Health Promotion and Education Officer.
He said they will all agree with him that clean hands through hand-washing saves lives, adding that it is important to note that hand-washing with soap is the most effective and inexpensive way to prevent infections which take the lives of millions of people, especially children in developing countries.
He said good hand washing is the first line of defense against the spread of many illnesses – from the common cold to more serious infections, such as meningitis, bronchitis, the flu, hepatitis A, trachoma, most types of infectious diarrhea and the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) of which this GTTI hand washing facility is dedicated to prevent.
Mr. Njai said hand-washing is promoted in the fight against Ebola infection, especially after touching fluids of an Ebola infected person or dead body.
“Significantly, as we enter the month of October marking Global Handwashing month, with the theme: Choose hand washing, choose health,”
Speaking on behalf of the WHO country rep. Mr. Bakary Jaguraga said his organization will continue to support the government in their strides to protect and prevent the country from Ebola.
Mrs. Jahou S. Faal, the Director of GTTI, said the device is named after “Sawer” meaning “your health”. She said the device is an innovation that can be used by all communities and institutions within the context of the objective realities of the community. She noted that it is also a most valuable asset for the border entry points and which if implemented would be a first of its kind in the sub region in the crusade against the spread of the Ebola virus. She added that the uniqueness of ‘Sawer’ is its ability to operate it without the use of the hand thus reducing the spread of the virus.
“As an institution of learning where the public space is wide and social interaction very common, the introduction of a hand washing facility can contribute immensely to the prevention of the spread of the virus. The GTTI is one of the largest educational institutions in The Gambia with a population of over 2,500 students and staff. On a daily basis, an average of over 500 students, staff and the general public interact at the GTTI. This is a good reason why personal hygiene with or without EBOLA should be observed,” said the GTTI Director.
Mrs. Bah Faal said the GTTI has designed and produced a hand washing facility to be used by everybody entering and leaving its premises, adding that a similar thing is also done at other strategic points within the campus.
“It is worthy of mention that the GTTI Students’ Union is leading and coordinating the Ebola awareness and prevention campaign at the GTTI. The same approach will be extended to other GTTI centres in Banjul, Mansakonko in LRR and Julangel URR,” she disclosed.
She said one of GTTI’s mandate is to effectively respond to the changing development needs of the country and to showcase the competencies and talents of its staff and students. “It is within this context that the “Sawer” was designed and produced. The human resource capacity to produce large numbers of “Sawer” exists at the GTTI so that it becomes accessible to all essential users particularly at border entry/exit points. However, due to budgetary constraints we can only showcase our production capacity hoping that potential sponsors or customers will come forth to patronize us,” she revealed.
In his launching statement, Dr. Cherno Barry, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (MOHERST), said it was George Bernard Shaw who said “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world, the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
“In the midst of a crisis as grave and deadly as Ebola, the world is jolted to reality and the urgent need to safe lives has brought together sound minds to seek for the ultimate solutions. It is announced that many inventions have been made including a possible vaccine for the virus,” said the MOHERST Permanent Secretary.
He added “We are conscious of the crucial need to have a form of hand washing bay, or tank with disinfectant to help us adhere to one major rule in the prevention of Ebola – washing our hands. So what makes the difference between those innovations and what GTTI has produced today, is certainly its originality. It is therefore obvious that such an innovation has added meaning to our safety and surely that makes it an original discovery.”