Introduction to The Gambia and to RVTH
The Gambia is known as the ‘smiling coast’, which is a good
description of its very friendly people.
It is a small country in West Africa, with a population of
It has a history of being peaceful and it came third in a recent
World Bank assessment of financial probity/honesty in all Africa.
However, it has very few natural resources and most of its foreign
earnings have to come from groundnuts and tourism – both somewhat
unpredictable and neither very big.
RVTH is in The Gambia’s capital, Banjul. It has recently become a
Teaching Hospital, so it has just begun to train its own medical
students. It has 540 beds in the hospital, and also provides Primary
Healthcare for Central Banjul through its Polyclinic.
RVTH is funded primarily by the Gambian Government, but is
semi-autonomous, with its own Board, chaired by Dr E.M. Samba, and
its own management team. RVTH is working hard to cement its
We realize that money goes a lot further here, not least because
of the very low levels of pay of our staff, but also because the
range of services that we provide isn’t anywhere near as good as
what is taken for granted in wealthier countries. But nonetheless,
our financial restraints are huge. It is staggering to think that a
similar operation in a developed country would have a budget of
approximately 150 times more than we have.
The result of having so little money is that we are desperately
short of the doctors, nurses, equipment and appropriate drugs.
Patients are incredibly stoical but need and deserve better care -
patients are dying every day because we haven’t enough drugs,
equipment, doctors or nurses. Please click here for RVTH's
most urgent needs and here for commonly used drugs. This section will be regularly
RVTH also works very closely with the Medical Research Council
(MRC), which has a major base in The Gambia. In collaboration with
MRC, it has a number of special projects, including studies into
Malaria and Hepatitis.
RVTH receives support from various UN agencies such as WHO and
Unicef, from a number of NGOs and from various countries including
the UK, the EU, Taiwan and Cuba.
We are constantly trying to improve the services we offer and are
having some successes in this, as you can see from the Improvements at
RVTH page, but find it hard to get away from limitations posed
by having inadequate staff levels and our other needs .
On the other hand, almost any money (or equivalent contribution)
is almost bound to make a big impact. So, if you are able to, please
remember our needs (see Donor page for
prompts on how this can be done.)
welcome message from the Chief Medical Director (Chief Executive),
Dr Mariatou Jallow.