CORONAVIRUS IN AFRICA

SOS HOSPITAL IN SOMALIA

The coronavirus has swept fear across the world and on the heels of Somalia confirming its first case of the virus, people are ignoring the consequences of the virus whilst the Federal Ministry of Health and Health workers are taking extra measures to sensitize people on the importance of protection of face masks, handwashing and social distancing.

SOS could be more than a code signal of extreme distress nowadays with COVID-19. This pandemic has turned everyone's life upside down. No one is spared - individuals, families, communities, nations and continents both the weak and mighty is suffering from the effects.

Philanthropy can be important today in terms of health care. If countries with strong health systems like China, Italy, USA, Spain, Sweden and many more seem overwhelmed by the pandemic like African countries with fractured health systems. Africa is struggling to cope with the sudden outbreak of coronavirus, which threatens to shut down the economic growth and Infrastructure Development Disruptions with world power countries.

Donate cannot mean only giving goods in this global crisis. The coronavirus pandemic could kill more people in Somalia than anywhere else if preventive measures are not put in place urgently, medical experts and analysts have warned. The country does not have a single testing kit and samples are being sent to neighboring countries and waited for days for the results. 

There are also concerns that the country’s vast number of displaced persons in the previous months could worsen the health crisis. Somalia has of now 1.7 million people who have been internally displaced by wars, insecurity, forced evictions, droughts and flooding; 108,000 returnees and 42,000 refugees and asylum seekers. Most of them live in overcrowded refugee camps.

There is dramatic increase in demand for face masks and supermarkets and wholesaling shops are experiencing a large increase of customers buying the products. Also, a worldwide shortage of face masks exists, and suppliers are having difficulty in supplying stocks in Somalia.

Donation

The Somali government is waiting for donations of face masks and testing kit from Chinese billionaire entrepreneur Jack Ma who promised to donate to Africa 1.1 million coronavirus test kits, six million masks, 60,000 protective suits. “Each of the 54 countries would each receive the following: 20,000 testing kits, 100,000 masks and 1,000 protective suits,” Jack Ma said.

In Mogadishu, the price of one packet of face masks has jumped from $2 to $50 meaning that the government of Somalia will have to spend a fortune on face masks alone before receiving donations from other countries.

At our SOS Hospital in Mogadishu, this challenge has had an impact on control and prevention of COVID-19 among staff and the communities accessing services. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the consumption of face masks was less than 100 packets annually, which in the current situation can only be enough for one month at incredible costs $500 compared to $5,000 in the COVID-19 era,” said Medical Director Mohamed Dakane.

The SOS Hospital in Mogadishu designed an innovative solution to solve the face mask challenge for the patients. The staff used locally available materials to make a face mask. The materials consisted of white wrapped cloth, which has been folded in lines, then sewed using elastic on both ends to cover the nose and mouth from the virus. The team has made 100 face masks and distributed 25 of them to the Ministry of Health in Somalia.

The SOS Hospital midwives conducting their daily routine of medical check up of patients using the face mask made by their team.

We no longer have to worry about delays of stock, its cost, and out of stock. Our staff uses our locally made face masks. We are saving thousands of dollars for Somalia. We have the potential to promote local technology and pass the Coronavirus prevention messages using our native language and create employment opportunities for thousands of youth.” added Mohamed Dakane. 

The locally made face masks are now in the minds of all the health staff and patients to use it for prevention measures. These masks can be washed with detergents, bar soaps to sterilize it and reused again. The hospital is planning on designing more of these masks and distribute it among the neighboring communities.

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