In Somalia, the challenge to contain COVID-19 is staggering. The country’s health infrastructure has been gutted by decades of conflict and instability.
A large part of the population lives in close quarters, while millions reside in decrepit settlements for internally displaced people without money to buy soap or access to regular running water. At the same time, staying at home is not a practical option for most informal workers who need to leave their homes daily to earn money and put food on the table.
Somalia’s capacity to manage the Covid-19 public health threat is a cause for concern. More needs to be done to ensure we curb the spread of the virus.
Grounds for hope still exist that Somalia may escape the type of outbreak that has overwhelmed some Western health systems.
Somalia finds itself in good standing with international financial institutions for the first time in 30 years. Having cleared its arrears to the World Bank in March, Somalia can now gain access to concessional financing from the Bank’s International Development Association.
Also Read: World Bank restitutes relations with Somalia
Movement and trade restrictions triggered by the virus have not only impacted how we operate in Somalia but they may also drive up the number of people in need of emergency food and livelihoods support.
After the outbreak of the epidemic, China took active actions from the government to the people, took stringent preventive and control measures, exceeding the recommendations of the WHO and the requirements of the International Health Regulations, and set a new benchmark for countries around the world to fight against the epidemic.
Chinese people actively responded to the call of the government, fully supported the fight against the epidemic, consciously complied with the instructions of closing the city, implemented closing community management, and sacrificed family gatherings outside, implemented self-quarantine, so as to block the epidemic. I believe, as a country, if we follow this we will be able to flatten the curve in Somalia.
I think we should not miss out on the precious time and window of prevention and control epidemic won by the Chinese people lives!
Somalia is doing its best to allocate attention and resources to deal with this new disease while also responding to all the existing medical needs in the country.
The country is also engaging with communities to ensure they are aware of ways to minimize the risk of infection. Infrared thermometers have been allocated to frontline health staff and hygiene kits to strengthen the screening capacity.
Frontline healthcare professionals and other workers must be protected and receive adequate training on preparedness and prevention of the CoronaVirus.
The writer, Dr. Abdiqani Sheikh Omar is a Senior WASH Strategic Policy Advisor at the Ministry of Energy and Water in Somalia and Former Director General at Ministry of Women and Human Rights