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Latest news from the Gambia

February 2014


Thanks to an excellent response to our appeal for funds to improve oxygen supply for hospitals in The Gambia, SAWW has been able to help two hospitals in need.


Many hospitals in Gambia lack an adequate oxygen supply. Oxygen is important to treat pneumonia, the biggest killer of children in the developing world. It is also needed for anaesthesia, emergency medicine, shock, severe bleeding and can be crucial for the survival of mothers with complications in labour.


SAWW provided equipment and training to Bansang Hospital, a rural hospital that is responsible for the health of some 600,000 Gambians. The equipment that will ensure an adequate supply of oxygen for the paediatric ward at all times. We also supplied the Ahmadiyya Hospital in Banjul with an oxygen concentrator and a Baby CPAP machine, to ensure the survival of premature infants.


Our sincere thanks to the supporters and the charitable trusts whose donations have made this possible, including The Peter Stebbings Memorial Charity, The Evan Cornish Foundation, The Ceniarth Foundation, The Fulmer Charitable Trust, and others.



The Gambia is a small West African country with a British colonial past. It enjoys warm sunshine for most of the year and has become a popular tourist destination. Despite this, the country is one of the poorest in the world.SAWW was contacted by a colleague who was visiting hospitals in The Gambia to install and service equipment in operating theatres.  He reported that most of the hospitals suffer from a shortage of equipment, medicines, oxygen and unreliable electrical supply.


The Royal Victoria Hospital in Banjul, the capital city, was no exception, and two new ventilators that should have been keeping patients breathing were lying idle for lack of an oxygen supply. SAWW was asked to help and the charity immediately agreed and donated an oxygen concentrator. An oxygen concentrator is a machine that generates oxygen cheaply and effectively from air. Within a matter of days the hospital had received the donate oxygen concentrator and was able to use the two new ventilators.


SAWW also donated three LifeBox pulse oximeters to the hospital at Bansang, which is located deep in the African bush, 200 miles upriver from Banjul. A pulse oximeter is a non-invasive tool for monitoring the level of oxygen in a patient’s bloodstream and sounds an alarm if it detects the slightest unsafe change. It is an important monitor that helps to ensure safe anaesthesia and is a key component of the WHO Safe Surgery Checklist.  However, this vital piece of hospital equipment remains worryingly scarce in poor countries.