By Momodou Justice Darboe

Dr Ismaila Ceesay of the Citizens’ Alliance has said that Gambia’s reliance on the goodwill of other countries to fight Covid-19 should serve as a lesson for the country to extricate itself from the vulnerable situation that it currently finds itself.

Dr. Ceesay, who made these remarks in an exclusive interview with The Standard, added: “Every crisis comes with opportunities and I think we should not only focus on the crisis itself but let us fight it until we win. Then, after that we look at what are the opportunities that are there and we cannot afford to miss this opportunity. We cannot leave ourselves in such a vulnerable situation where even face masks, testing kits… everything we need to fight this disease has to come from outside. What are we doing as a country? What type of a country we want to build? Even the milk we drink, we import it. It’s not sustainable. We are going to fight and we are going to win and when the fight ends, let us reflect as a nation on what opportunities has it [Covid-19] brought us. It now makes us to understand ourselves more. It makes us understand that we are very, very vulnerable as a country. What can we do to build a country that is self-reliant?”

“Imagine, if this pandemic took a different turn where it would call for a total lockdown of the global, international system. We shall be doomed because everything we eat comes from outside. Imagine if all the ports are closed, no seas and air transport. What are we going to eat? We’ll suffer. So, I think now going forward we need to start coming up with strategies to remove ourselves from this vulnerable position. But also we need to start thinking to see how, as a country, we cannot continue living the way we are.”
Dr. Ceesay warned that Covid-19 will affect the country’s healthcare system which, he said, has been weak for a long time.

“It’s time to invest in our healthcare system. Future threats to our existence will not come from missiles and atomic bombs from America or Russia or North Korea or maybe aggression from Senegal, but from viruses and diseases like corona caused by either natural or environmental factors,” he postulated.

Dr Ceesay noted that Gambia is blessed with the ripe condition for us to be food self-sufficient and what the country needs is to invest in agriculture to be able to provide the food that we need.

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