MOGADISHU:-The International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) on Saturday urged Somalia to take proactive measures action to curb the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.
The charity said that Somalia should strengthen mitigation measures against the viral disease to forestall a humanitarian crisis amid vulnerability of communities linked to civil strife, diseases and malnutrition.
“Somalia is at a crossroads, where we can rapidly scale up to get information and resources out to communities and health care facilities against COVID-19, or move too slowly and never catch up,” Juerg Eglin, ICRC’s head of delegation for Somalia said in a statement.
“Speed is critical, and we are working with our colleagues at the Somali Red Crescent to fight COVID-19 from fully taking hold,” he added.
Eglin said that Somali Red Crescent Society (SRCS) and ICRC are racing to reach 120,000 households with information on how COVID-19 can be prevented through improved hygienic practices like hand washing with soap.
According to Eglin, nearly 8,000 families were reached with critical support this week in Somalia’s Baardheere region.
He said that 260 COVID-19 information sessions were organized this in other parts of Somalia this week, reaching about 2,600 people.
So far, seven cases have been confirmed in Somalia involving two foreigners and seven Somali nationals.
Eglin said that humanitarian agencies should ramp up support for Somalia to enhance its resilience against COVID 19 as the Horn of African state grapple with climatic stresses, internal strife and a fragile political environment.
“Violence continues. Climate shocks continue. We will have to respond to the needs of the most vulnerable in Somalia, with the additional threat that COVID-19 brings,” said Eglin.
Ana Maria Guzman, health coordinator for the ICRC in Somalia warned that a spike in COVID 19 cases could overwhelm the already fragile health system in Somalia.
“If we have a surge in cases, the health system will not be able to cope, said Guzman
“Accurate information has to be on the forefront of the response, so people can take steps to protect themselves and their families.” She added.
She said that nearly 500 health workers and SRCS volunteers have been trained in COVID-19 prevention and symptoms.
According to Guzman, the ICRC is also distributing gloves, bleach, and other equipment to hospitals and clinics across Somalia.