UN Gold Star Award for Swansea-Gambia Partnership

Swansea University’s College of Medicine is celebrating winning an amazing UN Gold Star Award in recognition of its pioneering Swansea-Gambia link programme.

The Swansea-Gambia link is a partnership between the Swansea University’s College of Medicine and the School of Medicine in The Gambia.  As the only medical school in the country, the University of The Gambia is responsible for producing a high percentage of the country’s doctors. 

Action Aid reports that the average life expectancy for men in the Gambia is only 61 years, approximately 20 years younger than the UK equivalent. Swansea University has recognised that there is a clear need for improved healthcare in The Gambia and is helping in any way that it can through its Swansea-Gambia programme.   

The link programme was established in 2007 with support from The Tropical Health and Education Trust. The driving force behind the initial partnership was from Professor Steve Allen, Professor in Paediatrics and International Health, who recently left Swansea to take up post in the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. 

Gambia link award

Picture: College of Medicine team receiving the Gold Star Award from Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister for Wales, at The Senedd, Cardiff Bay.


The main aim of the link is to form partnerships between staff and students in Swansea and The Gambia to improve health care outcomes, contribute to teaching and research and to identify key areas of common interest. The link would also include education and training so that service delivery can be improved.    

The link has gone from strength to strength. The exchange of students from Swansea to The Gambia has become part of the College’s Apprenticeship programme where 20 students from each cohort are offered the unique opportunity to spend 2 weeks of their apprenticeships in The Gambia. Elective students from The Gambia come over to the UK as part of the exchange programme.  Whilst over here the Gambian medical students attend a variety of clinical teaching experiences as well as having an exposure to the clinical arena in ABMU Health Board.

Two years ago the College of Medicine was awarded funds from the Wales4Africa Health Links Grant scheme for a Clinical Skills Training Initiative Project which set out to establish a clinical skills training relationship between Swansea and The Gambia, supported by educational clinical examination  videos.

Gambia link award with Paul Jones

Picture: Paul Jones, Programme Director for the Swansea University Graduate Entry Medicine Programme, working with a Gambian student, in the School of Medicine in The Gambia, filming the videos that were part of the clinical skills bid from Wales4Africa last year.


This project was led by Programme Director Paul Jones and involved Gambian clinical skills trainers coming to Swansea to be trained in clinical skills methods and for the students to produce videos of these protocols with assistance from Swansea trainers in The Gambia. The College will also be assisting in the development of a revised medical curriculum and faculty development of the University of The Gambia medical curriculum. 

The University’s Swansea-Gambia programme is part of the Wales4Africa Health Links Network and the Gold Star Awards 2014 were presented by Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister for Wales at the Senedd, Cardiff Bay, during the Welsh Government and Wales Council for Voluntary Action’s, Wales Africa partnership celebrations.  

Receiving the award on behalf of the College of Medicine, Paul Jones, Programme Director for the Graduate Entry Medicine programme, said: 

“The Gambia Link partnership allows practitioners to share skills and best practice, as well as providing opportunities for future students to experience new environments of study and work with the ultimate aim of having a wide-ranging exchange between multi-disciplinary teams from Swansea and Banjul. I am proud that the pioneering work carried out by the partnership has been recognised in this way.”

Professor Keith Lloyd, Dean and Head of the College of Medicine said:

“Swansea University offers many opportunities for students to gain international experience through its study and work abroad programmes. The Swansea- Gambia link project will have an enormous impact on the standard of healthcare provided in The Gambia. Improving the training provided to the doctors of the future will have a long lasting and dramatic effect on the people of the Gambia. I am delighted that the hard work which staff and students voluntarily put into organising these links has been marked with this award.”