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Burundian soldiers donate medical supplies to HirShabelle amid Coronavirus pandemic

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

MOGADISHU, Somalia - A contingent of Burundian soldiers serving in the African Union Mission in Somalia on Saturday donated medical supplies to HirShabelle state, a move that is geared towards helping improve medical care besides mitigating hardships brought by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Struggling with almost a dysfunctional healthcare system, Somalia has been depending on well-wishers among them foreign troops in the fight against COVID-19, which has continued to wreak havoc across the war-torn country.

As of Saturday, Somalia had recorded 2,961 positive cases and the number could be higher than that due to inefficient testing ability. Of those infected, 941 have already recovered while 92 have succumbed to the virus.

The officers from the Burundi National Defense Forces [BNDF] handed over the donations to HirShabelle authorities, led by the state Minister for Women and Human Rights, Sa’adiya Mohamed Nur, in a ceremony held at Jowhar airport, AMISOM said.

Captain Doctor Dionys Zabagenzi, the AMISOM Sector V Chief Medical Officer, said the donations are expected to help the local population. The AMISOM had imposed a lockdown on its bases as part of protocols geared towards curbing the spread of the disease.

Due to this lockdown, local communities are not able to access AMISOM bases for medical assistance. The bases play an integral part in promoting healthcare and infrastructure within Somalia, a country that has struggled to establish a functional government for three decades.

“As you know the whole world is facing a big pandemic of coronavirus and we decided to give some drugs to the local population to support the health system of HirShabelle state, so they can treat our Somali brothers and sisters,” Capt. Zabagenzi stated. The donated items were sourced from Saudi Arabia and Burundi.

Ms. Sa’adiya noted that the donation was in response to a request by HirShabelle state to AMISOM following an appeal by members of local communities in Jowhar and Mahaday, who used to access medical support in AMISOM camps.

“Due to Corona, AMISOM instituted a lockdown and people were not able to access the camps for medical support. Since AMISOM at the moment cannot reach those areas due to the lockdown, we convinced AMISOM to hand over the drugs to us so that we deliver them to the communities and they (AMISOM) accepted," she said.

"We will deliver the medical supplies to local people through the MCHs run by the local doctors who will deliver similar services provided by AMISOM," the HirShabelle state officer explained, adding that distribution shall be done in a fair and impartial manner.

Sharif Mohamud Ali, a local health worker in Jowhar lauded AMISOM for the support and pledged to ensure that the supplies reach the intended beneficiaries, particularly, vulnerable communities affected by Covid-19 and recurrent floods.

“We thank AMISOM for handing over medical support meant for the poor families in the Middle Shabelle region especially Jowhar district. We will make sure that we deliver the supplies to poor people as soon as possible,” Dr. Sharif said.

AMISOM troops are set to exit Somalia in 2021 under the current Somali Transition Plan, which would see Somali National Army [SNA] assuming security responsibilities in the country. There are close to 22,000 troops from AMISOM contributing nations in Somalia.

Some of the member contributing nations include Kenya, Ethiopia, Burundi, Uganda, and Djibouti. The troops have also been instrumental in flashing out Al-Shabaab militants from their hideouts across Somalia, a move that has allowed the country to start rebuilding its institutions.