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20 May 2020

20 May 2020 – Somalia continues its fight against one of the most catastrophic outbreaks the country has ever witnessed. In spite of recurrent humanitarian emergencies, war and conflict, Somalia has been successful in the past in eradicating wild poliovirus and ending transmission of measles and cholera outbreaks. However, the current outbreak of COVID-19 has exposed some of the gaping holes and weaknesses in its health system to fight and respond to an outbreak of this magnitude and scale where human-to-human transmission can go unabated and cases could double in...

14 May 2020

Flooding in Somalia raises concern about cholera in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak

14 May 2020 – While Somalia deals with one of the world's biggest public health threats from COVID-19, which has so far claimed 52 lives in the country and infected 1219 people in less than 2 months, the country is also facing floods in the north that have killed 24 people and affected over 700 000 people in 24 districts. The flood has also displaced almost 283 000 people. Although all the 6 states have been affected by this flash flood, 3 states – Hirshabelle, Jubaland, Southwest and Puntland states...

11 May 2020

WHO supports accelerated response efforts for contact tracing in Somalia as cases surge

11 May 2020 – As the laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 surge in Somalia, the country has also intensified its operations response to contain the epidemic. The WHO country office in support of this intensified response operations has deployed over 4000 community health care workers, each having to visit at least 5000 households every month for active case identification and contact tracing throughout the country. These community health care workers are being supervised by an additional 44 rapid response teams, formed at the district level. Once the community health care workers identify...

07 May 2020

WHO and European Union unite to fight a common enemy to humanity

Mogadishu, 7 May, 2020 – The WHO country office and the Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Somalia have joined hands under a new collaboration in the country to strengthen operational response activities for COVID-19. The new collaboration aims to accelerate support for the frontline work of WHO in combating COVID-19 in a seemingly vast country where transportation of vital medical supplies and personnel needed for rapid response to the outbreak remain a perpetual challenge owing to suspension of commercial and cargo flights and the lockdown, which has cut off...

04 May 2020

Somalia’s polio teams help combat COVID-19

4 May 2020 – “The road to the mountain village was rough. It’s only 50 kilometres, but it took more than 3 hours,” says Dr Fatima Ismail, a disease surveillance officer working in Somaliland. “We were bouncing in the car.” In early 2020, Dr Fatima’s team headed to a remote village near Djibouti to check on a small boy. The boy’s right arm and leg showed a kind of paralysis that sometimes indicates polio. “The village polio volunteer in this mountainous area, geographically inaccessible, found an acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) case,” Dr Fatima remembers.  When children show signs of this paralysis, it’s critical to get stool samples to a laboratory to determine whether they...

23 April 2020

Somalia scales up life-saving essential health care services in COVID-19 response

23 April 2020 – The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to rise in Somalia, including associated deaths attributed to coronavirus disease. While the number of cases increase, there is increasing demand on the health system for patient care. When health systems are strained and overwhelmed, especially in fragile and vulnerable settings like in Somalia where adequate mechanical ventilators and other critical care support for patient care are basic, rudimentary or absent, mortality from the outbreak may increase substantially over time. Since the beginning of the outbreak, 7 associated deaths...

23 April 2020

EWARN increases surveillance for COVID-19

23 April 2020 – In Somalia's COVID-19 response, being ahead of the curve is the only way to stop transmission and limit spread of the virus in the community. Enhancing active surveillance and expanding its geographic coverage to include both the private and public sector using a syndromic-based approach is the best way to detect cases early. In Somalia, in the absence of any routine disease surveillance system, EWARN is doing what it was intended to do and what the system did best in other outbreak situations.    EWARN, a disease surveillance...

23 April 2020

WHO provides support to increase testing capacity for COVID-19 to limit community transmission

As the COVID-19 pandemic escalates the WHO country office has helped Somalia rapidly build and scale up the testing capacity for COVID-19 in Somalia. In March 2020, when the country’s first case of COVID-19 was laboratory-confirmed in Somalia, the country had no capacity for testing and diagnosis of COVID-19. WHO sent nasopharyngeal swab from 4 returnee travellers, all Somali citizens, to Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) in Nairobi which has an accredited Biosafety Level-2 (BSL-2) laboratory for viral and emerging pathogens supported by WHO and the United States Centers for Disease...

08 April 2020

As cases of COVID-19 increase in Somalia, operational readiness also scaled up to early detect and respond to community transmission

The WHO country office is supporting the Ministry of Health and Human Services of the Federal Government of Somalia, as well as all state health authorities to scale up operational readiness for early detection and response to large scale community transmission from coronavirus disease (COVID-19). As of 6 April, the government has officially reported 7 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19, 2 of these cases were reported from Somaliland. While 6 of these reported cases have travel history before they became sick or were quarantined, the investigation on the remaining case suggests that...

08 December 2019

Saving Somali children from vaccine-preventable diseases

8 December 2019 – The first phase of a nationwide integrated polio and measles vaccination campaign has concluded in Somalia having achieved high coverage. WHO in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health and UNICEF launched the first phase of the campaign from 24 to 28 November 2019, targeting more than 1.7 million children under the age of five for polio vaccination and more than 1.5 million children aged six to 59 months for measles vaccination and vitamin A supplementation. This is the first time that an integrated campaign such...

24 November 2019

1.7 million Somali children to be reached with life-saving vaccines

MOGADISHU, 24 November 2019 - Health authorities launched today a campaign to vaccinate 1.7 million children against measles and polio in Benaadir, Galguduud, Hirshabelle, Jubaland and South West State, Somalia. The 5-day campaign, running from 24 to 28 November, will target children under the age of 5 with polio vaccines and children aged 6 to 59 months with measles vaccines. The vaccination campaign, conducted in partnership with the Somali government, World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), also includes a vitamin A supplement for children under 5 to...

18 November 2019

WHO requests US$ 1.38 million to continue emergency and life-saving health interventions in flood-affected districts

18 November 2019 – Recent flooding has plunged Somalia further into a deep humanitarian crisis. Heavy rains in Somalia and Ethiopian highlands led to increased water levels in the rivers Shbelle and Juba, which has affected an estimated 539 888 people and lead to the displacement of over 370 000 people, leaving 25 dead and 47 injured. According to the monitoring of the Somalia Water and Land Information Management, heavier and continuing rains are expected, which may lead to greater displacement. As a result of the flooding, health facilities have been damaged...

15 September 2019

WHO supports launch of universal health coverage roadmap in Somalia

Mogadishu, 16 September 2019 – Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Somalia experienced a significant milestone yesterday when WHO and the Federal Government of Somalia launched the roadmap to UHC for Somali people in a formal ceremony held at the Somali state house today. The UHC roadmap portrays the strategic framework and medium-term goals for the Somali health sector and was developed jointly by the Somali Ministry of Health and Human Services along with WHO, UN and development partners, civil society organizations and the donor community. The three strategic goals of...

25 June 2019

WHO and UNICEF Somalia and partners call on all Somalis to vaccinate children against polio

Polio teams roll out targeted polio campaign to halt ongoing outbreak Mogadishu, 25 June 2019 - Health authorities rolled out a polio campaign yesterday in Puntland and Somaliland to vaccinate more than 940 000 children under 5 years of age to stop an ongoing outbreak of a strain of poliovirus. The campaign runs from 24 to 27 June 2019, with support from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). It targets all children in 12 districts in Somaliland and 9 districts in Puntland. By the numbers: 945 480 children...

23 June 2019

Ending cholera in Somalia

23 June 2019 – Combating cholera is a challenge for Somalia. Due to protracted crisis destroying the water and sanitation infrastructure and dilapidated health systems, coupled with regular flooding, several states are recurrently being hit by cholera epidemics. Despite these grave challenges, the Ministry of Health of Somalia, WHO and other partners face issues head on to identify sustainable solutions. Unlike in 2017, the country continues to report cholera cases sporadically. The country faced one of the largest cholera outbreaks in 2017 with over 78 000 cases, including 1159 deaths. In...

23 June 2019

Cholera vaccination drive begins in high-risk districts in Somalia

Mogadishu, 22 June 2019 – Somalia has just launched one of Africa’s largest immunization campaigns using oral cholera vaccines (OCV). The campaign, which runs from 22 to 28 June 2019 in high-risk areas of Somalia, will vaccinate more than 650 000 people aged one year and above to eliminate the risk of the disease among vulnerable populations and to prevent recurring cholera outbreaks in the country. Somali health authorities and the World Health Organization (WHO) are conducting the campaign with the support of the United Nations Children’s Fund, Gavi, the Vaccine...

07 May 2019

Vaccines are saving millions of lives of children in Somalia: urgent need to scale up routine immunization programme

7 May 2019 –  From the moment we’re born, we’re all at risk of contracting diseases. So the question is, are we aware enough? Are we responsible enough? Are we immune enough? Not long ago infections like influenza, tetanus, chickenpox and measles were prolonged, painful illnesses, which often resulted in death. Immunization saves millions of lives every year and is widely recognized as one of the world’s most successful and cost-effective public health interventions. The Expanded Programmme on Immunization (EPI) started in Somalia in 1978 with the support of WHO and UNICEF....

11 April 2019

Somalia joins the world in marking World Health Day

Mogadishu, Somalia, 9 April, 2019 – WHO in Somalia joined the world in marking World Health Day on 7 April by forming a human solidarity chain with representatives of United Nations agencies and key partners in Mogadishu. All around the world solidarity chains were formed to mark the Day and symbolize the importance of strong partnership and commitment in improving health care. The theme of this year’s campaign was improving primary health care ‒ an entry point to the health care system ‒ as a path to achieving universal health coverage....

26 March 2019

Nationwide polio immunization campaign aims to leave no child under 5 behind to end polio

Mogadishu, 26 March 2019 – A nationwide polio immunization campaign has been launched in Somalia that will run from 24 to 27 March. The campaign aims to vaccinate an estimated 3.1 million children under the age of 5 in the country.    The campaign is part of WHO’s efforts to ensure that Somalia remains polio free as it has from indigenous wild poliovirus since 2014. However, 2 strains of circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses – vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) and type 3 (cVDPV3) are concurrently circulating in the country and have left 12...

11 March 2019

Driving change for Somali mothers and children

11 March 2019 – In most parts of the world, women announce a pregnancy with excitement; they can count on quality and timely support when delivering a child. In Somalia, excitement is often lined with unease, as women are cognizant of the risks associated with pregnancy and delivery. Inadequate health facilities, particularly in remote, rural areas, force women to deliver babies at home. Birth attendants are not always qualified; traditional birth attendants, who are used often, lack technical skills and may even be forced to use contaminated equipment at times. In...

24 January 2019

Somalia developing comprehensive plan to improve health of mothers, children and adolescents

Mogadishu, 24 January 2019 - With support from the World Health Organization (WHO) and other United Nations partners, Somalia is currently developing a strategy that will change the rhetoric in the country and ensure Somali mothers and children can access quality health services equitably all across urban, rural areas in the country. Known as the “Reproductive, maternal, neonatal, child and adolescent health strategic plan” for Somalia, it focuses on using universal health coverage – a concept that ensures health is equitably delivered to all, without beneficiaries suffering financial hardships while...