News assistant editor Pete Wallace reports on the day’s events from The Gambia

WHAT’S £3.50 worth nowadays? The price of a pint? A Big Mac? Half a pack of fags?

How about the life of a child?

The Project Gambia-supported Charity International Clinic in Kanifing has around 1,000 cases of malaria through its doors every year, peaking in the mosquito-infested wet season, when, at its height, 20 or more people a day lose their lives to a disease which hangs over The Gambia like a brutal, unremitting angel of death.

It’s a hideous, painful way to die, which starts with a cough, raging fever and crippling joint spasms before most frequently culminating in fatal bacterial chest infections. It primarily seeks out children and women, and can wipe out great swathes of village communities at a stroke.

And yet around 95 per cent of cases can be cured by a simple three-day course of antibiotics. Which cost 250 Dalasi. Or, £3.50.

Problem is, most people in the poverty-stricken Gambia simply don’t have 250 Dalasi to buy the medication – and of the 1,000 or so cases a year, only about 20 per cent of victims can afford to buy their own survival.

Do the maths. That’s 800 people a year, in one small community, who die for the want of the price of a pint.

But it was almost even worse.

Last year the Charity International Clinic was forced to close due to lack of funding. Just one month later, Project Gambia volunteers turned up on the doorstep to help save it after hearing of its plight.

Dr Tanye Romeo had been saving lives in The Gambia for 20 years, and was running the clinic when the devastating news came it had to close. He told me: “It was terrible. I kept praying and praying every day, then one day I had a knock at the door and they were here from nowhere – God had sent them for us.”

Since then, the clinic has, with their help, grown from strength to strength. New equipment has been provided, nursing staff trained and employed, and décor and facilities upgraded. Children from the neighbouring Half Dye and Kanifing schools are assessed and successfully treated for an array of conditions which in many cases would have escalated into yet more tragic, avoidable deaths, free of charge and slowly, day by day, corners are being turned.

The picture is by no means a pretty one. It’s a desperate battle with many, many more heartbreaking defeats than lifesaving victories.

Prevention is always better than cure and mosquito nets and medical supplies provided by PG are helping wage war on the mosquitoes and their deadly cargo. But thanks to their support, the Charity International Clinic and Dr Romeo are at last fighting back again.

To learn more about Project Gambia’s work or to donate visit

Even if it’s only three-and-a-half quid, you could be saving a life.