Health Minister Zuma announced a new government-commissioned panel of experts to study how indigenous communities can better support health and education in the country.
“The government is committed to addressing issues like HIV and tuberculosis, as well as ensuring that the community receives adequate medical, education and health services, and that people are not deprived of their right to live their lives as they see fit,” Zuma said in a statement.
Zuma said the panel will “examine the current situation of health, education, health care and economic opportunity for indigenous people in the South West of the country”.
The Gambia has a population of about 17 million, with about 3.5 million living on the land.
The government has faced criticism for its lack of action on health issues.
In April, the country’s health ministry announced a plan to develop a “super fund” to support health services.
Critics have also called for an investigation into allegations that the government misappropriated funds from the National Green Investment Fund (NGIF) to buy land in the Gambian National Park for a “secret” health project.
A total of 4,000 hectares of land, worth $9.4 million, was sold to the Gambians for a project that was to have provided health services to people living in the park, but the project was later cancelled.
There are also reports of health workers being paid by the government in cash, and children being forced to work as domestic servants to get their government-funded health care.
The Gambian government has since apologized for the “mistakes” and said the purchase of the land was done “in the public interest”.