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Bijilo Medical Centre - a health and social care programme in The Gambia (HSC)

Location: Gambia
Project type: health & social care
Price from: £1176.00 - details below

Share your medical and healthcare skills to help support medical practitioners at a hospital and health-centre aiming to fight poverty and reduce mortality by facilitating access to quality healthcare for all Gambians. 

Skills required

We work closely with the local people who manage this project, and they have identified their primary volunteer needs as follows:

midwives and gynaecologists
lab technicians
alternative therapists

Main project details

Bijilo Medical Center/Hospital (BMC) is a non governmental health facility with the goal of providing comprehensive and affordable quality medical services to all in The Gambia. BMC is non-profit orientated. Dr. Musa Touray, a Gambian citizen who trained in Europe and USA, established the hospital in 2002.
Their goal is to develop BMC into a multidisciplinary health center that
excels in:
Primary Health Care
Continuing Training
Clinical Research
The Center operates clinics in the following areas of medical care:
Internal medicine
General Surgery
Medical Imaging (X-ray and Ultrasound)
Gynaecology – Obstetrics
Clinical Diagnostics
The Medical Center also operates as a hospital, with male and female wards and three private rooms.
The 35-member BMC-staff is a family of dedicated healthcare workers driven by the BMC motto, Care-Compassion-Commitment. The staff comprises physicians, nurses, laboratory technicians, radiographers, physiotherapists, groundsmen, hospitality and security personnel. Team work and “doctoring together” is the order of the day.
Bijilo Medical Center welcomes volunteers and interns who can assist us in clinical, paramedical, technical or organizational way.

Depending on their skills and experience, volunteers can help to develop the capacity of BMC in a variety of ways working alongside local medical practitioners and/or running training workshops to develop skills. Volunteer opportunities are many and varied in this project.  Whatever your skills, you are needed to help on this important healthcare project in The Gambia.

You can also volunteer on this project from home through our e-volunteer programme.  For more information about e-volunteering click here.

To learn more about how the volunteer programme works with this project read more here


Health care facilities are relatively sparse in The Gambia though new health clinics are being built up country.
Like most developing countries, preventable and treatable diseases like malaria, respiratory infections, diarrhoeal disease, malnutrition, and neonatal sepsis are largely responsible for childhood mortality and morbidity in The Gambia.

According to the MICS 2018 survey, under-five mortality in The Gambia is at 57 per 1,000 live births; infant mortality is at 41 per 1000 live births; and neonatal mortality is at 31 per 1,000 live births.  There has been a steady decline in mortality rates, however for neonatal mortality (deaths occurring within the first 28 days of life) there has been a slight increase from the last 5 years from 28 to 31/1000 live births. This trend is worrying and needs urgent attention. The maternal mortality ratio is 433 per 100,000 live births, and accounts for 36 per cent of all deaths among women aged between 15 and 49 years old according to the demographic and health survey 2013.  

In adults, the leading causes of inpatient deaths are maternal deaths, pneumonia, cerebrovascular accidents, trauma (especially road traffic injuries), hypertension, anaemia, diabetes, heart failure and cancer, whilst cardiovascular diseases including hypertension, diabetes, cancers and trauma are the common diseases in adults (2015
HMIS Service statistics).

According to WHO’s estimates, NCDs and injuries account for 41% of all deaths registered in the Gambia whilst the probability of dying between 30 and 70 years from the 4 main non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is 19%. The risk factors for NCDs are also a cause for concern with 15.6% of adults 25-84 years smoking; 1.2% drinking alcohol; 22% with low physical activity and 93% eating less than 5 servings of fruits and/or vegetables on average per day (WHO Steps 2010).

These statistics are compounded by a weak health sector, due to insufficient financial and logistical support, a deteriorating physical infrastructure, lack of supplies and equipment, shortages of adequately and appropriately trained health personnel, high attrition rates, and an inadequate referral system.

Despite the challenges, The Gambia continues to make gains in primary health care (PHC) coverage, especially in immunization coverage, to ensure protection from vaccine-preventable diseases. By 2015, The Gambia achieved the Millennium Development Goals for Infant Mortality Rate, Under-5 Mortality Rate, immunization coverage, proportion of population using an improved drinking water source, primary schools enrolment and reduction in Malaria disease burden. 

Volunteer opportunities are many and varied with this health support programme - nursing and midwifery, physiotherapy, radiographers, lab technicians, radiographers, alternative therapists - all these skills and more will be welcome in this volunteer project. Whether you are in work and looking for a career break, or already retired, you can share your skills and experience with medical practitioners at this local hospital and health centre. Take a look at the list of needs, as identified by the project, near the top of this page. You can play your part in responsible volunteer projects abroad.

Minimum duration

4 weeks is an optimum length of time, but placements can be designed for as little as 2 weeks to a maximum stay of 3 months according to volunteer input.

Living Conditions

You will live in a secure apartment within a family compound.  Your appartment will have a small kitchen enabling you to cater for yourself.  There are supermarkets and restaurants nearby.  All apartments have TV, Wifi, fans and shower room.  There is the option of air conditioning at an additional cost.
If you would prefer to stay in a small hotel or have access to a pool we have various other accommodation options we can share with you.

Project costs

From £1176 for 4 weeks single volunteer in studio apartment - NB reductions apply for double occupancy

Read about our costs and pricing policy here 

Watch an explanatory interview with programme director Sallie Grayson

Returning volunteers will receive a 25% reduction in project management and matching fees 
Additional weeks are costed at a sliding reducing rate - please ask for details 
Please note these costs are correct to the best of our knowledge but can only be confirmed at time of booking due to changes in transport and taxes outside our control.
Included: self catering apartment, airport transfers, full local orientation, city tour, social event, local SIM card (not including data), project & placement liaison.
Your contribution will fund the work of the programme and purchase the materials you may need.
How your money is spent based on 4 weeks:
£436- direct costs in The Gambia (airport transfers, accommodation, orientation, allowance for daily transport)
£280 - project management, liaison & supervision in The Gambia
£200 - project contribution in The Gambia
£260 - recruitment, matching & project development in UK
Not included: flights, insurance, visa costs, personal expenses such as phone calls, data packages for smartphones, medical expenses, etc.. 
Meals: an allowance of £10-£15 per day should be more than sufficient...depending on your tastes!

If you or your friends and family wish to make further donations to this project please contact us at

Recommended reading

Check out slideshare   youtube  our blog  facebook for volunteer interviews & project news

2011 UN report - Youth in Africa

Rough Guide to The Gambia

The Good Tourist in The Gambia - a guide book for the conscientious tourist

The Bradt Travel Guide Book - The Gambia

Registered volunteers can learn about the local team for this project - LOG ON to learn more about this project and the local team we work with. Not registered yet? It's easy and free HERE!

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