COVID-19 vaccines arrive in Somalia
Bringing new hope to the fight against the global pandemic
Earlier this week, 300,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Somalia. 195,000 doses were delivered to Mogadishu, 40,000 to Garowe and 65,000 to Hargeisa.
This first consignment of vaccines will be used to vaccinate an estimated 300,000 frontline workers, elderly and people with chronic health conditions.
By prioritizing essential workers and people who are at highest risk of COVID-19 complications, Somalia can ensure health and other essential services continue to function and deaths among people at risk, especially the elderly, can be reduced.
Somalia is among the first African countries to receive doses of COVID-19 vaccine delivered through the COVAX Facility. This is an historic step towards ensuring equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines worldwide.
“The arrival of the COVID-19 vaccines happens at a critical time as Somalia is now experiencing a new wave of the epidemic. It can only be contained if all countries stand together, Somalia included. I call on all healthcare workers and people at high risk who have been prioritized to receive vaccines from this first batch so we can protect our health workforce, other frontline workers and high-risk people,” said Dr Fawziya Abikar Nur, Somalia's Federal Minister of Health, during the arrival ceremony.
UNICEF, WHO and the UN family, continue to support the Government in all its efforts to ensure the pandemic seizes to be to be a threat to Somalis’ health.
“The United Nations in Somalia stands ready to support the Somali authorities for the COVAX vaccine roll-out. We are committed to support the government of Somalia to reach out to the most vulnerable groups and frontline workers to ensure that spread of the virus is contained, and that Somali people recover quickly from this pandemic and the country continues making progress towards peace and stability,” said James Swan, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, at the ceremony.
“Unless we protect health workers, health systems will remain overwhelmed and the most vulnerable women and children in the country will continue to lose access to life-saving services, risking years of progress and resulting in the poorest children falling further behind,” said Jesper Moller, UNICEF Somalia Representative a.i.
UNICEF supported the Government in procuring and supplying vaccines and injection equipment through the COVAX Facility. In the coming weeks and months, UNICEF and partners will work closely to monitor vaccines in the supply chain, ensure adequate cold chain capacity is in place to accommodate the vaccines, and provide technical assistance to strengthen the cold chain systems. UNICEF will also support Somalia in monitoring the vaccine utilization and accountability through stock management and reporting.
In close partnership with the Government and WHO, UNICEF is also building on years of experience in providing simple, effective and accurate information to build public knowledge, awareness and confidence in vaccines. Social mobilizers are being deployed to ensure local communities are engaged in the overall vaccination process. They will also reinforce the importance of continuing COVID-19 prevention measures.
“The vaccines have helped other countries reduce the spread of COVID-19, and we are confident they will do the same for Somalis. However, we must emphasize the need to continue other public health prevention measures such as wearing face masks, hand washing, social distancing, expanding the testing capacity across the country, strengthening contact tracing through effective surveillance and the isolation of people who present COVID-19 symptoms - at home, when these are mild and moderate, and in hospitals when needed,” added also the federal Minister of Health.
Somalia has recorded 9,600 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 392 deaths, since March 2020. People aged 60 years and older account for more than 80 per cent of the total deaths. From 1 to 22 February 2021, a total of 1,432 new cases and 76 deaths were reported in Mogadishu alone. This has been the largest increase in a week since May-June of 2020 when the epidemic peaked at between 500-600 cases a week.