Mogadishu (Onkod Radio)— Mogadishu, 18 July 2022: The German Government has contributed US $5 million to Somalia to improve the country’s capacity to deliver life-saving vaccines to remote and hard-to-reach communities. The contribution is part of UNICEF’s efforts with governments globally to take vaccines to the ‘The Last Mile’ – remote, rural, and peri-urban areas and populations displaced by droughts and conflicts.
“Germany sees the importance of reaching everyone and everywhere. Covid-19 has demonstrated that this is crucial, and the current drought is proving it once again,” states Martin Stein, Head of Humanitarian Assistance for Somalia at the German Embassy in Nairobi. “We require immediate assistance but need not neglect our efforts to build a long-lasting infrastructure. Covid-19 will not be the last health emergency and sadly the current drought will not be the last one either.”
The contribution will support Somalia’s Ministry of Health to expand its COVID-19 vaccination program while creating health infrastructure to support scaled-up vaccination programs for other diseases like measles and pneumonia. The COVID-19 scale-up will target people living in camps for the internally displaced, peri-urban, and rural communities. The plan includes the deployment of mobile vaccinators that specifically target nomadic and remote communities.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has overstretched the capacity of our fragile health system affecting the delivery of essential health services. Without a strong health system, we will not be able to reach our rural, nomadic, and internally displaced people,” said H.E Dr. Fawziya Abikar Nur, Minister of Health, Federal Government of Somalia. “This generous contribution from the German government will enable the Ministry of Health to reach out to the last child and strengthen the delivery capacity of the health system.”
The German contribution comes at a time when only 10 per cent of the population in Somalia is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, well below the WHO target of 70 per cent by mid-2022. The inequities are also stark, as only 11 per cent of those vaccinated live in rural areas, camps for the internally displaced, and nomadic communities.
Persons displaced by the drought and conflict live in overcrowded camps and lack basic facilities such as water and sanitation. These conditions make it difficult for them to adhere to COVID-19 prevention measures, predisposing them to infection.
“We know that 26 per cent of the Somali population is nomadic and the country now has about 800,000 people internally displaced by the drought,” said UNICEF Representative Wafaa Saeed. “We thank the Government of Germany for this generous and timely contribution. In our quest to immunize every child and woman in Somalia, this grant will ensure that those who need these services the most are reached, and no one is left behind.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the difficulties of reaching marginalized populations in Somalia with essential, life-saving vaccinations. The ongoing drought in large parts of the country has not only forced people to leave their homes but also increased malnutrition among children and diseases like measles and cholera.
The ‘Last Mile Initiative’ aims to address these challenges by expanding the cold chain, the system of refrigerators, freezers, cold boxes, and vaccine carriers that are used to store, manage, and transport vaccines in a temperature-controlled environment. Mobile vaccinators will take vaccination services close to communities and have the agility required to reach populations on the move.
Source Horn Observer