Mariam Muhammad (not real name), 23, from Garowe, Puntland was eight-months pregnant when she started feeling severe flu-like symptoms at the beginning of November 2020. Her situation worsened three days later when she started having a fever. Her husband rushed her to Garowe General Hospital.
“I was taken into an isolation centre for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. The doctors carried tests on me including a test for COVID-19, and I tested positive for the coronavirus,” says Mariam.
She was immediately put on special treatment under close monitoring by health experts at the hospital.
“I was well taken care of. I was fine within a week and gave birth to a bouncy and healthy baby girl three weeks later,” Mariam says.
Since its establishment, the COVID-19 isolation area has provided access to life-saving Emergency Obstetric Care, and Neonatal Care (EmONC) services to 10 COVID-19 positive pregnant lactating women and 20 COVID-19 suspected pregnant and lactating women.
The Ministry of Health in Puntland with UNFPA Somalia’s support established a COVID-19 isolation area f with funding from the Government of Finland.
“The isolation area has been put in place to provide access to life-saving Emergency Obstetric Care and Neonatal Care (EmONC) services and information, including access to cesarean section operations to pregnant women who may be COVID-19 positive and lactating women who test positive in Puntland,” explained UNFPA Head of Garowe Office Ms. Bahsan Said.
She stated that the isolation area aims to prevent the transmission of the COVID-19, which is seen to be increasing in the second wave of the pandemic. Ms. Said appreciated Puntland’s Ministry of Health’s efforts in its continued efforts in providing essential maternal and reproductive health services to women in the region.
The Ministry of Health director of finance and administration Mr. Mohamed Hussein thanked the Government of Finland for its financial support towards the health sector in Puntland and UNFPA Somalia for the sustainable technical support it provides to the sector.
“The isolation area was established at a critical time when there was an increasing number of pregnant and lactating women who were either suspected to be or are found to be positive with COVID-19. These are mostly women who are in need of essential maternal and reproductive health services but hesitate to go to health facilities due to the risk of infecting other people, and due to the lack of isolation areas for them,” said Mr. Hussein.
The emergence of COVID-19, a respiratory tract infection caused by a newly emerging coronavirus, has caused a major global outbreak. In April 2020, the Ministry of Health in Puntland confirmed that COVID-19 had reached the region. Prior to that, the Government had shared a national preparedness and response plan for COVID-19 and established an emergency task force comprised of government ministries, donors, UN agencies and NGOs. Also, the government set up a quarantine facility in Garowe, Galkayo and Bossaso. The government also banned international flights, prohibited public gatherings, closed schools and universities, and imposed a night curfew.