MRC Farafenni branch closed
Thursday, April 02, 2009
The Medical Research Council (MRC)’s Farafenni branch is reported to have been closed down on February 27, 2009.
According to Alisom Offong, communication officer of MRC, the closure is a move by the ministry in United Kingdom, aimed at ensuring certain reviews of investment, particularly in Africa, currently underway. "We are presently reviewing our activities, structures and investments across West Africa, to ensure continuing success in terms of our core objectives over the next 20 to 30 years period, so as to address certain health priorities and leadership capacity building for internationally competitive research in the sub-region," she said.
The review, Offong added, commenced in August 2008. She expressed hope that it will undoubtedly result in a number of changes, "as to how and where we spread our investments and activities across the sub-region in the coming years."
She went on to note that one of the immediate results of this review process is the decision to close down the Farafenni field site, which, she said, had stopped operations at the end of February 2009. She revealed that some of the works currently ongoing in Farafenni will be relocated. "Although we have various challenging decisions to make over the period, there are also many new opportunities and collaborations opening up as well," she said.
She assured of the Council’s readiness to engage with a wider variety of partners and stakeholders across West Africa and beyond, as part of the process, noting that a greater focus on partnership will be key to ensuring both scientific success and sustainability for the future.
Asked what the site now would be used for, she said the place is going to be handed over to the University of The Gambia to house the Medical School, an issue she said they had discussed with the Department of State for Health and Social Welfare. But he said that no approval had been gotten from them yet. The Daily Observer went on to speak to some of the people laid off by MRC as a result of the closure of the Farafenni site.
Modou Joof, gardener, said Friday 27 February, 2009 was a particularly sad day for all staff. "I am not working now. I was solving my basic needs from the job and also helping my family. So having this place closed down is a great loss to me. Modou Lamin Nyang told the Daily Observer that since the decision came up last month, several community leaders had been appealing to the top management to continue the operation. "They were told that the decision came from their ministry in the UK, something they cannot do anything about."
MRC has a 60-year record of international competitive research aimed at reducing morbidity and mortality from diseases in the developing world. It has also demonstrated a consistent commitment to supporting and developing both research capacity and health service delivery in The Gambia and across the West Africa sub-region.
Author: by Alhagie Babou Jallow, in NBR