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International report

The Gambia offers conventional reponse to mental health problems

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There is only one psychiatric hospital in Gambia, the Tanka-Tanka, previously located in an old prison building in Banjul.
There is only one psychiatric hospital in Gambia, the Tanka-Tanka, previously located in an old prison building in Banjul. © http://www.tankatanka.nl

Psychiatry remains a under developed area of health across most of West Africa. In the Gambia, there is only one psychiatric hospital for the whole country, which means around 100 beds for two million inhabitants.

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The first hospital was opened in the 1960s in Banjul in a building that was previously a former jail. Conditions were poor so in 2009 the hospital was moved to outside the city to a new building financed by a Dutch NGO.

Today, the workers of the Tanka-Tanka hospital try to offer the best care possible in a country where traditional medicines rather than hospitals are used to tackle mental health problems. Claire Bargelès has this report, the second in a series of five on health in the Gambia.

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