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Your Excellency Deputy Chairperson Of The African Union Commission
Special Guests to the 58th Annual Conference and Scientific Meeting of the West African College of Surgeons
Cabinet Ministers
Secretary General and Head of the Civil Service
Members of The Diplomatic and Consular Corp
Present and Past Presidents, Councils and Fellows of The West African College of Surgeons and Sister Colleges
Chairman and of The Local Organizing Committee
Distinguished Guests
Members of the Media
Ladies and Gentlemen

It is a pleasure to welcome our distinguished guests to The Gambia, as we host for the third time, the Conference and Scientific meeting of the West African College of Surgeons. However, this 58th annual meeting came at a time when The Gambia is entering a new phase of its political history. My administration is in its second year after a challenging period of over two decades. We are now in a new era in which our emphasis is on good governance, democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law.

It is in this context that the health sector stands out as one of our priority areas that need urgent actions. We are working carefully to build the required partnerships as we develop and implement a new health sector strategic plan in line with our National Development Plan.

It is in this light that I commend the Surgical College for the valuable work you are doing to support and improve the capacity of surgeons in the country in terms of skills but also to increase the number. I have been informed that in the past 10 years, the College has trained senior fellows and awarded the fellowship diploma through examinations to six specialists. Allow me to congratulate you all for this great achievement. My administration will continue to counts on your contributions to the development of the national health sector.

We are very much aware of the human and material resources needed; however with the expertise from the College, I am optimistic that we can put our efforts together to advance the health of the people.

Distinguished Guests,
Let me emphasis that it is one of our priorities to revitalize the past traditional collaboration within the sub-region, whereby West African Health Organization- WAHO facilitates the secondment of surgical specialists from the sub-region to support our plans in building an effective residency programme for our Gambian surgeons.

I acknowledge the changes the College is making in responding to our concerns by training the middle level human resource base of health workers. This will meet the needs of district hospitals and other health facilities in hard to reach areas of our countries.

It is commendable for you to include the AU Agenda 2063 in your discussions. This blue print sets out a strategic framework for the socio-economic transformation of the continent over the next 50 years. I can assure you that our own National Development Plan do conform to the principles of this agenda.

Distinguished Guests,
At this juncture, I want to say a special welcome to the Deputy Chairperson of the AU Commission, His Excellency, Mr Kwesi Quartey for making time to respond to the invitation of the College as special guest.

You will agree that the success of this strategic framework Agenda 2063 must be premised on an integrated and united continent. I have noted that your College over the years has continued to demonstrate this unity and integration by being in the forefront of forging closer ties between the different professional health groups particularly in the sub-region.
The success of bringing together the French and English speaking surgical training institutions under the umbrella of your college and even went further to harmonize examinations of the two entities is worthy of noting. I am reliably informed that the success of bringing the two entities together led to the creation of WAHO. All these developments must be an inspiration for the greater unity of the continent.

For us to achieve Agenda 2063 in Africa, we need to reduce disease and poverty as the two are linked and challenging to have a healthy population who can work effectively for economic growth.

Distinguished Guests, as I conclude, let me also thank you for the excellent work you did in the past week by bringing together forty volunteer health personnel surgeons and nurses to perform outreach surgeries. Some of cases would have been evacuated because the relatives could hardly afford the cost.
I know as volunteers you paid your own fares and in some cases brought consumables and equipment. I thank you for this generous act, which has now been institutionalised as part of your College’s mantra.

On this note, it is with great pleasure, I declare this 58th Conference and Scientific meeting of the West African College of Surgeons officially open and I wish you all a successful conference.

Thank you and God bless you all.

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