The Gambia

Partner: International Medical Relief 
Program Cost & Application Fee: $2,100
Estimated Economy Airfare:  $2,000

About the mission: The people of the Gambia are facing major obstacles in their pursuit of basic health care to save and or enhance their lives. Basic health care is not affordable for the vast majority of citizens in the Gambia. Although a few government-run clinics do exist, they are not adequately equipped to handle the needs of the people. The two major problems faced by Gambians are related to the shortage of health care professionals and access of medications due to availability and financial restrictions. The main causes of mortality in infants (0-12 months) are neonatal sepsis, premature deliveries, malaria, respiratory infections, diarrhoeal diseases and malnutrition. For child mortality, the main causes are: malaria, pneumonia, malnutrition, and diarrhoeal diseases. Almost 60% of the population is under age 25. The literacy rate is 55% for men – and considerably lower for women. Poverty is a national issue. In 2008 (last data available) there were only 0.11 physicians/1000 people – compare this to the United States with 2.5 physicians/1000 people and you can see a country that needs help to care for her people.

About the country: The Gambia is the smallest country in Africa and is a country completely surrounded by another country with the exception of a small length of coastline on the Atlantic Ocean. The Gambia, surrounded by Senegal, is a country of a rich history in her own right. In fact, you will be staying on a island that was one of the most important slave trading routes during a tragic time in history. The Gambia is known as one of the most culturally rich countries on the African continent, with many tribal and ethnic groups living peacefully side-by-side. The Gambia has enjoyed long periods of stability, unlike many of her African neighbors. Stability, however, has not translated into prosperity. Despite the presence of the Gambia River, which runs through the middle of the country and on which you will travel, only one-sixth of the land is arable and poor soil quality has led to the predominance of only one crop – peanuts. With a population of 1.8 million, the life expectancy is less than 60 years and the probability of dying before the age of 16 is greater than 25%. Malaria is the #1 cause of death for children under 5 and lower respiratory tract infections killed more than 1700 adults in 2012, the most recent year this information is available (WHO). Nearly 60% of the population lives below the poverty line and 40% lives below the food poverty line. Poverty is widespread, pervasive and predominantly rural. Approximately three quarters of the rural population (where are clinics will be held) is classified as poor. The Gambia needs your help and the Ministry of Health has asked IMR to provide care.

About International Medical Relief: This trip through International Medical Relief, a nonprofit providing mobile medical clinics and sustainable health education to undeserved communities in 57 countries around the world. This mission has has several options for trip extensions to visit nearby Senegal. Rich with colonial heritage and many natural attractions, Senegal is known for its exciting safaris, nightlife, and historical museums. While in Senegal, experience the wildly unique Lac Rose — a pink saltwater lake, the tiny, car-free island of Gorée and visit the House of Slaves museum.

If you are interested in more information or are thinking about applying for this trip, please contact the Making a Difference Foundation staff through the button below or call us at 866.608.1322.

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