Somalia – April 21 2020

Coronavirus in Somalia: a doctor's concerns

"My country will be heavily challenged to fight COVID-19," says Dr. Farhio Saney, a doctor at the SOS Mother and Child Hospital in Mogadishu, Somalia.

Dr. Farhio Saney says her hospital has no choice but to produce protective face masks, as the price of one packet of masks has jumped from $2 to $50. Below, she discusses the challenges in her work amidst the COVID-19 pandemic:

"Growing up, I always wished to become a doctor. There were not sufficient hospitals in Somalia when I was growing up. It was much worse back then because of the outbreak of wars, droughts and diseases. 

"Some hospitals are still not equipped with basic maternity services and the mortality rate of mothers in Somalia is very high. I am in charge of the maternity department in the SOS Children’s Villages Hospital in Somalia, where we offer free medical lab tests and caesarean section deliveries to women in need. I am very thrilled to be serving my community as a doctor as I am of the belief that it is a woman who understands the pain of another woman.

"As doctors, we continue to provide our services at the maternal and children's hospital now in the time of COVID-19. We face many challenges as a nation. Somalia is among the countries that does not have testing kits, so we send test samples for the coronavirus to neighboring countries and receive results after a number of days.

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"At our hospital, we have designed face masks for our health workers, which will help with prevention. We have one staff member who is responsible for sewing face masks. We use a small piece of white cloth for making them and we hope this will help us with sustainably sourcing this necessity, which is scarce worldwide. We have so far produced 100 pieces and given 25 samples to the ministry of health, but we know this will not protect us from the virus fully.

"Most of the hospitals in Somalia are not well developed and lack most equipment. The ICU standard is not good and does not have sufficient ventilators so it is a big challenge for us to treat any mother or child that may come in with the virus in case they develop severe complications. We have prepared one room, which we use to check vitals of patients and demonstrate handwashing procedures before we refer them to other departments for consultation and outpatient referrals.

"I really hope this virus goes away soon because it really worries me whenever I watch the news about other countries and the difficult times they are going through, because I know my country will be heavily challenged to fight COVID-19."

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