Hormuud Telecom, Somalia’s leading telecommunications company, has announced several measures it says will help the country in its efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.
At the end of April, Somalia had fewer than 500 cases of COVID-19. But two weeks later, May 13, the country had 1,170 confirmed cases, with 52 deaths. The situation could get worse if the trend continues. One of the problems authorities have been battling is fake news and disinformation, which is impacting efforts to slow the further spread of the virus.
To help counter the fake news and misinformation, Somalia’s largest telco has partnered the country’s Ministry of Health to implement a number of measures.
In a press release shared with Tech In Africa, Hormuud Telecom said it had worked the government agency to create a free hotline and call centre accessible to all citizens, use social media to broadcast public health messages and announcements as well as providing free voice messages to 3.5 million mobile users.
Hormuud Telecom CEO Ahmed Mohamud Yuusuf noted that that the difficult times brought by the virus meant that “mobile communication has never been more important.”
“The ability to deliver accurate public health information to large populations – as well as the ability to counter misinformation – will prove vital in our ability to stem the spread of the virus.”
The Hormuud Foundation, the firm’s philanthropic wing, has donated $2 million to help relief efforts, with $500,000 to be used in rebuilding sections of the Banaadir Hospital converted into COVID 19 response centres.
$350,143 will go towards helping IDPs, refugees, and marginalized members of the community, especially during the Ramadan period.
The firm has also deployed 2 ambulances to be used by frontline health workers as they help tackle the virus.
Hormuud’s chief executive has also appealed to the international community to support the country’s fight the COVID-19 pandemic. According to him, this is one way in which they can help Somalia “prepare for the economic consequences” likely to follow.
He went on:
“Not only may these consequences set Somalia’s hard-fought-for economic progress back, but they also pose a significant threat to the nation’s security and stability.
In 2019, Somalia ranked 194th of 195 countries in Johns Hopkins Global Health Security Index, scoring zero in emergency preparedness and healthcare access. COVID-19 could overrun the country’s health system if it spread out of proportion.
Hormuud Telecom hopes its efforts and those from other players will go a long way in curtailing a potential spiraling of infections.