By Adama Tine
The 38,400 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines donated by the France government to the ministry of health of The Gambia have arrived in the country on Sunday, witnessed by the Health Minister and his medical experts together with the French Consul, WHO rep, UNICEF and other health partners.
Speaking at the handing over of the vaccines, Dr. Ahmadou Lamin Samateh, the minister of health said, the arrival of the vaccines will be a big relief to the 19,000 people who have taken their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccines. “These 19,000 people have been eagerly waiting for the arrival of the vaccines. They have been asking us when the vaccines will arrive so they can be fully vaccinated,” he said.
Dr. Samateh said the vaccines are lifesaving while expressing delight to the French government for the gesture. He reminded the people on the existence of the virus. He added that the coronavirus pandemic has been unprecedented. He further said the world has never experienced such a pandemic before.
Dr. Samateh said the virus has caused devastation to many countries.
The global solidarity in the case of vaccines is spearheaded by the COVAX facility coordinating the distribution of vaccines to different countries.
He noted the difficulties the world is facing at this time and called for more global solidarity. He said the health workers are working tirelessly to ensure that people are safe from the coronavirus. He said Covid-19 is real and some patients are in critical conditions. He assured donors of the effective usage of the vaccines.
Dr. Samateh further said that the donation shows the strong bilateral relations between the Gambia and France.
Representing the French Charge d’Affaires, Charbel Elhajj, said the French government is delighted to support The Gambia in the fight against the pandemic. He called on the people to take the vaccines.
“I hope that the vaccines will be put into good use,” he said. He added that this is the first badge of the AstraZeneca vaccines the France would donate to The Gambia. He stated that vaccines are not only a gift but a lifesaving gift if they are put into proper use.
“The French government has been pushing in the global fight against the pandemic by donating over 120 million vaccines to countries that cannot or have less chances to afford the vaccines”, he said.
Toshiko Takahashi in her remarks on behalf of UNICEF said, the arrival of the vaccines marks another historic moment in the fight against the pandemic. Mrs Takahashi also said the vaccines are effective and called on people to take the vaccines to be protected from the virus. She expressed UNICEF’s appreciation to the French government for the donation. She also called on people to continue wearing face masks and the washing of hands to easily combat the virus. She added that the government cannot do it alone but if people work together, the virus can be defeated.