Planning your elective: Gambia
Mark Wilson gives you the low down on planning your elective in Gambia
Gambia is a thin country--55 km wide but 530km long--situated on the west coast of Africa. It projects inland on both sides of the River Gambia and is totally surrounded by Senegal. From Banjul it is possible to arrange trips to Senegal. It is not a popular elective destination, possibly because there aren't many hospitals and most voluntary work has to be arranged through non-governmental organisations.
Basic medical services are available to most of the population; however, neither medical care nor medicines are free. There is a vast shortage of doctors (only one for every 12 000 people) and a quarter of state doctors work in the main hospitals in the capital. Malaria, diarrhoea, malnutrition, tuberculosis, anaemia, snakebites, dysentery, pneumonia, burns, and broken limbs are common, especially in the bush. Prevalence of HIV is about 2%.
The three main hospitals in Gambia are the Royal Victoria in the capital, Banjul,