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Corruption & Poor Internet Hampers Issuance of Electronic Birth Certificates & Health Insurance Cards

By Binta S Jawo

The Ministry of Health (MoH) through the Public Health commenced the issuance of electronic birth certificates and the Nation Health Insurance Card on 2nd August 2022. However, a press release from the Ministry noted that there has been hampered by favouritism and collecting money from applicants for a free service.

At the beginning of the registration, officials say everything is in place and their target is to register everyone resident in the Gambia 3 months and older within a three-month period.

Another press briefing held on Friday 19th August 2022 by MoH Officials revealed that poor internet and large numbers of applicants coming at once are hindering the process.

A news report aired on West Coast Radio’s popular morning news show “Coffee Time” revealed the observations of a reporter who applied for an electronic birth certificate and a health insurance card at Kanifing Estate.

The report highlights that besides the challenge of poor internet the number of machines required to register applicants was not sufficient as long queues built up beyond the entrance of the registration centre. This made the process slow and frustrating for applicants who arrived and couldn’t register due to poor internet.

Women and children were seen sitting on mats, bricks and empty gallons with little or no hope of getting registered.

Another allegation that has marred the process is the rumours of 50 missing Wi-Fi routers which have allegedly disappeared without a trace. The biggest concern, however, has been the allegations from the MoH that some public health officers are collecting monies from certain individuals to help them to get their documents easily without joining the queues. Some of the people who claimed to have been there for more than four days claim that the public health officials on the ground are considering those that they know and their relatives.

According to a Facebook post on the “Ministry of Health The Gambia” page, the Director of Health Promotion and Education Modou Njai has learned that some of those public health officers conducting the registration are involved in dubious acts such as favouritism and collecting monies from applicants. The MoH, therefore, issued a warning to those individuals engaged in such practices to desist from such with immediate effect or be dealt with accordingly if found wanting.

The MoH reassured the general public that they will continue to deliver quality and affordable services to the Gambian population. They concluded by urging the public to report any individual found wanting of such acts to the MoH by calling the toll-free number 1025.

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