Public Health Science Agenda for COVID-19 is missed in Somalia

By: Daud Abdi Daud “Jourd”

The prolonged conflicts existing cause environmental health problems increase risk, say new research foe environmental health situation analysis in Somalia.

Almost, since 1991, conflicts and statelessness profoundly affected the health care system in Somalia. After the collapse of the central government and the descent into civil war, many efforts to restore a central government were unsuccessful. Somalia is marred with widespread social and economic problems and a dire lack of public institutions.

Mental health services in Somalia are insufficient in number, lack proper equipment and geographical coverage is limited for addressing all the needs of the country. Eight facilities were reported to exist and were assessed. They all have a different nature and offer various services according to their locations, qualifications of staff and extent of support from external actors. This situation analysis shows us from an increasing commitment that community actors and a variety of stakeholders have put on Mental Health, including the development and wellbeing of the Somali population. As part of a twofold study, this situation analysis and the Strategy for Mental Health aim at catalyzing attention on the environmental health issue.

Obviously, due to the lack of the proper medical treatment and facilities and the huge need for them, the communities are faced with several kinds of traditional healers where some of them allegedly treat mental disorders. Each treatment has its own rituals, rationale, procedures and complexity that is not easy to explain. Amongst the rites used in dealing with mental related problems are:

• Koranic treatment;

•Mingis (originally from the north, pagan origin but blended with some Islamic believes similar to Ethiopian rite of Saar);

• Dawo Somali (traditional medicine with herbal and natural infusions);

• Sharax (officiated on the coastal region, Arabic origin);

• Borane (similar to Mingis in the area of Juba, Lower Shabelle…);

• Xayaad.

In a new study published in the journal Nature Communications, I looked out over at the data from ten UK-based long-term studies, alongside 1.1 million anonymised electronic health records from English general practices. Based on this data, we investigated whether the burden of long COVID (how common it is) differs by demographic and health characteristics, such as age, sex and existing medical conditions.

A country like Somalia, Covid-19 isn’t just a health crisis, but is an economic juggernaut. Even before the outbreak gathers speed, people are feeling the pinch of inflation, widespread job losses, and fear that measures to contain the spread of the virus will have an equal or even more detrimental impact on their survival than the pandemic itself. As the Covid-19 pandemic takes hold in Somalia, government agencies tried, with support from humanitarian and development actors, have made considerable efforts to contain the risk of virus-spread in the country but failed. Border closures, curfews, restrictions on gatherings and quarantine measures have all sought to limit movement while mass messaging by mobile phone, radio, social media and through influential community leaders has focused on handwashing, hygiene and social distancing practices.

On the one hand, Somalian’s are experiencing significant environmental problems, including deforestation, overfishing, overgrazing and soil erosion Somalia’s natural capital is under substantial pressure from inappropriate land uses, conflict, and climate change.

However, there is lack of adequate and virtual training to Somali authorities for water treatment and environmental health as well as lack of experience for social mobilization and awareness in which cause that the new Somali president tests positive for COVID-19 last week on Friday during a trip to the United Arab Emirates by his first journey after winning the presidential vote for the second time, having previously served from 2012 to 2017.

Currently the covid19 degree recorded so far and registered is 26,748 COVID-19 cases and 1,361 deaths, according to a national data from the health ministry.

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