Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Authorities must take care of poor prison condition

Dr. Amadou Scattred Janneh, former Gambia Information Minister

  • Joint TB/HIV activities becoming more urgent 
  • Halifa Sallah on convention, says no level ground for political parties
  • D1M Bail for Ecobank Teller Victoria Mendy
 Plus More...

Authorities must take care of poor prison condition 
Special Criminal Division of the High Court in the Gambian capital, Banjul, on October 13 ordered prison authorities to step up the poor condition of the Jeshwang prison, one of many in the country.
Concerns about poor and unhealthy conditions have been raised before by many who have been at one point detained or imprisoned at the country’s maximum security wing, the Mile 2 State’s Central Prison.
On Thursday, lawyer Borry S. Touray, holding brief for Lamin S. Camara, told the High Court that Dr. Amadou Scattred Janneh, former Information Minister had informed him that his prison cell at Jeshwang leaks whenever it rains.
“My client has informed prison authorities but nothing was done about it,” Counsel Touray said.
Justice Emanuel Nkea, presiding, then ordered the authorities to ensure that the cell where Dr. Janneh is held is taken care of.
Dr. Amadou Scattred Janneh, Momodou Keita, Ebrima Jallow, and Micheal C. Ucheh are being held at the Jeshwang prison on allegations of “conspiracy to commit treason”, “treason”, and “seditious act”. They are accused of unlawfully planning to overthrow the Government of The Gambia by printing and distributing T-Shirts with the inscription “Coalition for Change The Gambia: End Dictatorship Now”. They have denied any wrong doing since July this year.
Touray did apply for an adjournment on grounds that the counsel handling the case, Lamin S. Camara was absent, and he could not continue with the hearing since he did not have the case file.
However, the Director of Public Prosecution, Mikailu Abdullah argued that the prosecution would proceed with the hearing, as they have witnesses to testify against the accused persons.
“My witnesses have come all the way to the court to testify, leaving their works, so it will not be fair on their side when the matter is adjourned,” Abdullah said.
Nonetheless, Justice Nkea ruled the trial be adjourned till October 19 and 20 for what he called “a fair hearing and justice” but warned that the case must continue in the next adjourned date with or without a counsel.

Joint TB/HIV activities becoming more urgent 
In the Gambia, a report on the surveillance of Human Immune Virus (HIV) among Tuberculosis (TB) patients indicated that 11 percent of registered TB patients counseled and tested were HIV-positive, reveals Mr Musa B. Jallow, Master of Public Health, Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.
However, the HIV prevalence rate as reported in the 2008 sentinel surveillance stands at 2.8 percent, making the implementation of the joint TB/HIV activities a more urgent and important task than ever before.
“Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS are both diseases of great public health significance and when both diseases concurrently occur in one individual, it becomes worst and more difficult to manage,” Mr Jallow said while presenting a paper on “implementation of TB/HIV collaborative activities in The Gambia” during awareness creation on “Tuberculosis” for Gambia Health Journalists (AOHJ) at the National Nutrition Agency, Bakau.
“Since the initiative of the joint TB/HIV services, TB and HIV/AIDS programmes are increasingly working closely in over 200 countries towards universal access to integrated TB and HIV prevention, care and support services.”
Among the first successful TB/HIV collaborative interventions was the World Health Organisation (WHO) initiated Pro-TEST project in 1997 and coordinated by the WHO, which developed a consistent response to the TB epidemic in three African countries.
TB/HIV co-infection has a great impact on both TB and HIV/AIDS programmes, and the planning and implementation of the joint TB/HIV activities is becoming increasingly urgent and important as a result of the rapid growth of the HIV epidemic in many countries has resulted in a dramatic rise in the estimated number of new TB cases.
As Mr Jallow explained, TB and HIV epidemics continue to influence each other, with TB being the most common cause of death among People Living With HIV/AIDS (PLWHA).   
In fact, a 2008 report by the WHO stated that HIV remains the greatest factor for progression of latent TB infection to active TB disease. For individuals who have normal immune systems, the lifetime risk of developing active TB is about 5-10 percent, whereas the annual risk of developing TB disease among PLWHA increases to 10 percent. High rates of TB recurrence have also been reported among people living with HIV and low cure rates.
In response, the WHO has developed guidelines for the implementation of joint the TB/HIV activities.
In the Gambia, some of the activities being carried out within the context of TB/HIV collaborate include intensified TB case finding through TB screening and diagnosis, HIV counseling and testing provided for registered TB cases, HIV care and support including nutrition, Mr Jallow said,  adding that the promotion and provision of HIV prevention, TB infection control in health care and congregate settings, co-trimoxazole preventive therapy (CPT) for HIV-positive TB patients, ART provide for HIV-positive TB patients and awareness raising on co-infection for the general public are among responses being undertaken.

Halifa Sallah on convention, says no level ground for political parties
Mr Halifa Sallah, Secretary General of the opposition party, People Democratic Organisation Independence and Socialism (PDOIOS) has said a convention is the only way to change the system.
It belongs to Gambians for change due to the fact that we do not have a level ground for the operation of all political parties to contest in an election, Mr Sallah told journalists shortly after the announcement of a trimmed-down final voter list by the Independent Electoral Commission of The Gambia at its headquarters on October 4.
“We did not believe in multi party system to exist as it should be, so we need to recognise that we do not have a second-round of voting and opposition parties should be conscious of the fact to see the need to file one candidate,” he said. “That is our position and we are going to continue to propagate that, and if different people have interest we recognise that and certain political parties told us that they do not want to loose advantage to a particular political party.”
According to him, this can be address by an inter-party convention, because every person who wants to become a candidate can come before the convention.
He explained that under the convention, the candidate selected will be accepted by all, so it means that the candidate who is selected is not from any political parties.
“We want a constitution that will serve the interest of the people and to form a government that will promote fundamental human right, open media and free environment,” he said. “The selected candidate will swear to uphold the rules and regulation of the convention and he don’t need to campaign because people will campaign as it is not a one party ownership.”
He added that young people constitute the largest population and the motive behind change from Kartong to Koina is a united front. Individual party cannot make a change.

D1M Bail for Ecobank Teller Victoria Mendy
Victoria Mendy, 25, a Cashier at Ecobank was on Monday arraign before Principal Magistrate Taiwo Alagbe Ade of the Kanifing Municipal Court and charged with stealing by clerk and servant an amount of D854,071.
Unrepresented by a counsel, she pleaded not guilty and was granted bail bond of D1 million with a Gambian surety.
Particulars of offence state that Victoria Mendy from 1st August 2010 to January 2011 in the Kanifing Municipality of The Republic of The Gambia by virtue of her employment as a Cashier at Ecobank she stole on various occasions an amount of D854,071 (eight hundred and fifty four thousand Dalasi seventy one bututs), being the property of the said bank, thereby committed an offence.
Prosecutor Sergeant Kinteh represented the Inspector General of Police. Meanwhile, the case will continue on October 24, 2011.    

  • Courtesy of The Voice Newspaper, Banjul, The Gambia

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