UN envoy calls for continued support to help Somalia’s COVID-19 fight
Support provided by international partners has enabled Somalia to provide facilities for patient care in the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but more international assistance is needed to help the federal government in critical response areas, the United Nations (UN) envoy to Somalia said during a visit to De Martini Hospital in Mogadishu today.
“As friends and partners, we have been honoured to help you and to stand by your side and to provide support. The core work and leadership has been yours, but it has been our privilege to offer some assistance through the World Health Organization, the International Organization for Migration, through the United Nations Children’s Fund and through many other UN entities that have contributed since the beginning of this pandemic,” the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, James Swan, said.
The world body’s envoy was speaking after touring the facilities at the hospital and meeting healthcare workers to appreciate first-hand Somalia’s response to the COVID-19 public health emergency. The De Martini Hospital has been central to testing, case detection and critical care support in Somalia. Mr. Swan called for continuing international support for the government’s response to the pandemic and praised the efforts of healthcare workers.
“I want to extend our deep appreciation to all the frontline health workers, critical care staff, those in support positions who have provided critical care, who have provided medical services, have supported the testing and other support services and, of course, have treated the patients,” Mr. Swan said. “You are on the frontlines delivering response to those affected by the disease and you have the gratitude and appreciation of your nation but also of your friends and partners.”
Multiple fronts of support
The United Nations family’s support for Somalia’s COVID-19 response includes planning, coordination, and policy development support; capacity-building of health professionals working in laboratories and hospitals; the establishment and operation of a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) laboratory in Mogadishu, Garowe and Hargeisa; logistical assistance with the supply of personal protection equipment (PPE), ventilators and other equipment; and providing operational support to the hospitals, isolation centres and laboratories.
“All the international partners: I would like to thank you very much. All the UN agencies; IOM, WHO, UNICEF and international NGOs. It was an effort not only by the government but by all who took part in helping in small and big ways and we are very grateful for that. Yes, the challenges are enormous as is usual in the health sector,” said Somalia’s Federal Minister for Health and Social Care, Dr. Fawziya Abikar Nur, who accompanied Mr. Swan on the visit.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is supporting patient and case management in all isolation centres, providing salaries to newly recruited health care workers and strengthening community mobilisation and engagement, especially in the area of case detection and tracing.
“What we have seen now, the cases have dropped and also the deaths are decreasing. However, the outbreak is far from over. It is a long marathon race so we also reminded our health workforce that the outbreak is far from over. We need to keep our focus, we need to maintain our vigilance and we need to keep doing the things that we have been doing in De Martini hospital to serve humanity. A number of UN agencies have helped this hospital to improve the case management and to improve facilities for patient care. I would like to thank all our UN colleagues and UN agencies who have responded to the call of the government,” the WHO Country Representative for Somalia, Dr. Mamunur Rahman Malik, said.
The hospital has 71 dedicated isolation beds for COVID-19 patients and 16 ventilators, with its resources including an isolation centre. Along with other partners of the UN System in Somalia, WHO continues to provide technical, logistical and operational support to the hospital with patient management and care.
According to the federal Ministry of Health and WHO, as of 20 June there were more than 2 755 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Somalia, with 88 deaths. The cases include 133 healthcare professionals, with one reported death among them.
“We have been treating patients suffering from COVID-19, many of whom had other underlying conditions like diabetes, hypertension, asthma and cancer. These patients come to us in very critical conditions and we treat and support them using the WHO guidelines," said Dr. Abdilatif Mohamed Hussein, who works at the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit.