Medical Mission Trips to The Gambia
Thank you for your interest in IMR’s medical mission trips to The Gambia! This is a very unique opportunity to work with populations that have little to no access to healthcare and make a huge impact on their lives.
The Gambia is located on the West African coast and extends about 400km inland. The public health service delivery system is a three tier system. Over the past few years, Gambia’s health sector has been under great pressure due to high population growth rates, inadequate financial and logistic support, shortage of health staff, and lack of an efficient and effective referral system.
In Gambia, communicable diseases are one of the most common causes of death and non-communicable diseases are thought to be under diagnosed and under reported. Though there are many efforts to decrease health disparities that exist, Gambia’s biggest obstacle is still a lack of resources and funding. There are still gaps between expected and actual performance. International Medical Relief (IMR) partners with Gambia to increase support in initiatives to create a more equitable health care system. IMR continues to provide qualified health care providers and support staff to deliver medical and dental care, community health education, disease-specific education, and laboratory point-of-care testing. Join IMR as we continue to provide care and education and uplift the overall health of Gambia’s population.
International Medical Relief began its partnership by hosting medical mission trips to the Gambia in 2018. Since our first visit, 60 staff and volunteers have treated 5,500 patients. We plan to continue our preventative efforts by providing medical relief efforts and sustainable health services through community health training, medical treatments, medical supplies and equipment, and clinic operations. IMR strives to provide life-changing medical care to people who do not have reliable access to treatment and help increase the community’s education and knowledge of their own health, improving the overall health of the most vulnerable and underserved communities in the Gambia.
With diligent planning and preparation, IMR is dedicated to ensuring that specific goals are met on our missions, each in correlation to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 3 and 17.
IMR works to elevate vulnerable populations through shoulder-to-shoulder care with our local partners, creating workforce density, and a cadre of future healthcare and public health leaders in association to UNSDG 3: Good Health & Wellbeing.
In correlation with UNSDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals, our organization works in collaboration and at the request of local hosts where we are under their direct influence and affluence. IMR never goes into a country without a formal invitation where there is a great community need for medical or dental care, and health education.
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 an 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.
Within the 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 number one cause of death for children under 5 and lower respiratory tract infections killed more than 1,700 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.
Lodging & Transportation
You will stay in a beautiful resort for most nights on this amazing trip. There will also be an overnight on the UNESCO World Heritage designated Kunta Kinteh Island (St. James Island), made famous by the book and movie, Roots. Please join us as you discover the beauty of Gambia and the Gambian River valley! Our hosts, working hand in hand with the Ministry of Health, have partnered with us to create an itinerary that will allow you to see the sickest patients while sharing in the beauty of the Gambia.
You will have the opportunity to explore the Gambia, not just from the perspective of the health of her people, but also culturally as you work with many different tribes. You will stay on an island designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, infamous for its history of slaving but now famous as the disembarkation point in the book and movie, “Roots,” based on a true history of a family living on the island in the 1700s. The lead character is now known around the world as “Kunta Kinte.”
You will travel along the Gambia River, one of the most beautiful rivers in the world, where oysters abound, giving rise to the national dish of the Gambia, oyster stew. Women harvest the oysters from the river and add many of the common Gambian flavors from peanuts, tomatoes, black eyed peas, and more. You’ll enjoy the wonderful sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the Gambia every day during your journey.
Food & Water
All food is typically provided during your stay. Please refer to your unique itinerary on our website to review which meals are provided each day. We may hire local people to cook for the team during our visit, or we may eat at restaurants or hotels. Lunch in clinic may include sandwiches made by the team or a feast prepared in your honor by community leaders. We recommend bringing snacks to eat during the day or evening or to supplement your lunch. High protein/high fat/high energy snacks are best. IMR also provides all of the drinking water for the team. Hydration and nutrition are extremely important for the health of the team. You are the best judge of your own health so please pack appropriate snacks and stay well hydrated on the trip.
Extend Your Stay!
You’re journeying across the globe. Why not extend your stay in The Gambia to experience some of its top tourist attractions? Join us on an exclusive trip extension provided by our partner Worldwide Navigators and some visit of the area’s highlights.
Itinerary is subject to change without notice.
Full Mission (7-8 Days)
You can arrive anytime into Banjul International Airport (BJL).
Team breakfast and orientation meeting. The meeting will conclude around noon and the rest of the day is yours. Try out the Senegambia private beach, take a walk, or find one of the fun restaurants within steps of the hotel. We’ll meet back for a team dinner at 6:00pm with our hosts.
You and your team will provide training for local healthcare providers to continue IMR’s long-term, sustainable education efforts. Education is as important as medical and dental care for our patients. Each clinic includes basic health education according to the specialties and skills of the IMR volunteers, as well as the needs of the local people. When communities become empowered to take health and wellness issues into their own hands, they become self-sufficient. IMR provides learning opportunities for the local communities through classes and hands-on learning to sustain their well-being beyond our visit.
Clinics will be held in the rural areas with the highest needs in The Gambia under the direction of the Ministry of Health. We are very excited to work with local Gambian medical personnel in key areas of health concerns.
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.
In 2008 (last data available) there were only 0.11 physicians/1000 people in the Gambia. 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.
On your last day, you may choose to do group sightseeing, cruise the river, or take a free day to relax at the beautiful Senegambia Resort. The day is your choice – it is a day for you to recharge and prepare for your departure. You may depart any time.
Crisis Management & Emergency Response
We take security very seriously at IMR. It is our job to ensure that security precautions are in place, but please keep in mind that we cannot guarantee your safety on the trip.
- We continuously review all current activities occurring on the ground, and we work with the State Department and the U.S. Embassy to know the ground situation to the best of our ability.
- A security training conference call is available to our volunteers where we detail our security procedures that are in place for the trip.
- We take many security precautions such as radios, a buddy system, emergency evacuation plan and security planning.
- We protect the privacy of our volunteers in the field and provide them with customized contact information for their use.
- During our mandatory briefing, team members review our safety protocols, evacuation procedures, protocols for illness, natural disaster and terrorism.
We provide training to our teams to be cognizant of their own safety and to be aware of their surroundings.
- Several policies require teams to adhere to safety issues.
Your generous donation helps to save and change lives everyday.
Your charitable investment will go toward ongoing global relief to care for the underserved and vulnerable people of this community. As a member of this medical mission team, you will elevate the long-term impact of sustainable, capacity-building efforts that improve the health, wellness, and quality of life of those most in need. A small portion of your donation includes:
- Clinic supplies and medications for patients
- Clinic participation
- Transportation, accommodations, and meals as outlined in the itinerary
To save $200, a 50% donation payment must be received 14 weeks before the mission’s scheduled start date. Full donation payments must be received 4 weeks before the mission’s scheduled start date.
Early Bird Savings Opportunity
To be eligible, upload all your required documents and forms, and make a minimum of 50% of your donation payment by 14 weeks prior to your mission’s scheduled start date.
Flexible Flight Options
Volunteer with Airfare
You may choose to book a flight with us for an additional fee. Details on the available flight routing and US departure city will be announced on the Early Bird Date. Airport transportation to and from the team’s accommodations are also included with this option. Depending on your departure city, you may still need to purchase another flight in addition to this one. After this flight has been booked, you may contact our travel agent, Worldwide Navigators, for assistance booking any necessary additional flights.
Benefits of Flying at a Subsidized Rate
Volunteer without Airfare
Many team members choose to book their flight(s) to and from the mission location independent of IMR. This is a great option if would like to extend your stay in the area to tour and explore, or if the routing from you home airport is more feasible for you. If you choose to fly independently, please note that your transportation in between the airport and the team’s accommodations will not be provided. This will need to be arranged separately. Our partner for travel, Worldwide Navigators, would be happy to assist you in coordinating flights and/or transportation. You can contact them at email@example.com.
Benefits of Flying Independently
IMR provides a fundraising packet to all registered trip applicants that is full of ideas on how you can raise support for your trip or for supplies to be utilized on this specific mission. When soliciting donations for any of our trips, success is completed through telling your personal story. Why do you want to go? Who will you help? Why their donation can help you achieve the ultimate goal. Tell your story to anyone and everyone. Refer your potential or active donors to our website or Facebook page and to your personal fundraising page. You may share your personal fundraising URL on Facebook and other social media sites.
Join Us in Making a Difference.
Bring much-needed acute medical and dental care to a beautiful, culture-rich destination. You can join an IMR medical mission team today!