King’s Global Health Partnerships has been working with the Government of Somaliland to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission at Hargeisa Group Hospital, the country’s largest hospital.
In this article, Dr. Manal Ahmed Gas, Medical Coordinator at the Ministry of Health Development reflects on the collaboration between King’s and health partners in Somaliland, to strengthen triage of COVID patients and establish an infection control program.
On the 6th December 2021, the total number of detected cases of COVID-19 in Somaliland stood at 8,342 and 586 deaths. Due to limited testing capacity, the number of positive cases is likely to be higher, yet the Ministry of Health reports that almost 68% of these deaths have occurred in the past few months due to the Delta variant. We are pleased to see that more vaccines are arriving to vaccinate the people of Somaliland and this has decreased the number of COVID-positive patients.
I work at the Ministry of Health Development in Somaliland, in the Department of Health Services and Hospitals, where it is our responsibility to ensure and improve the health services that our hospitals are providing.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, King’s worked with Hargeisa Group Hospital (HGH) to help procure personal protective equipment (PPE), deliver case management training, and provide psychosocial and wellbeing support for health workers. We wanted to build on this work, making longer-term improvements to the hospital so they can be better prepared to respond to outbreaks.
Through this project, King’s has coordinated expert volunteers from the UK and other countries to design training for health workers at HGH and provide technical advice on triaging COVID-19 patients, and develop Infection Prevention Control (IPC) guidelines, alongside a local IPC Consultant.
The HGH needs to address the basics of IPC in order to become COVID-19 safe, ensure the safety of patients and staff, and continuity of essential health services. The training has equipped HGH staff with the knowledge and skills to practice standardized triage and COVID-19 screening points to safely manage patients with COVID-19, in a socially distanced environment.
My role on this project has been as the project coordinator responsible for implementing and coordinating activities, procurement, supporting donor reporting, and collecting Monitoring Evaluation and Learning (MEL) data.
Prior to this project HGH didn’t have any programs regarding infection control. We were successful in forming a fully functioning IPC program that the hospital management showed the appropriate commitment to sustain, and as the Ministry of Health it is one of our top priorities to focus on IPC and we hope this will be the benchmark program for other hospitals.
This project is funded through the UK Partnerships for Health Systems program, which is funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) and managed by the Tropical Health and Education Trust for the benefit of the UK and partner country health sectors.
Medical Coordinator, Ministry of Health Development, Government of Somaliland
Photo Credits: Abdikadir Askar
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