Saving lives through awareness, Somalia's leading Telecom, Hormuud, plays a significant role in battling the COVID-19
When the first case of COVID19 was detected in Somalia in March 2020, there was a serious concern of the news, especially in a country where the medical facilities are limited, and the existing facilities are severely under-resourced and ill-equipped.
As it puts people before profits, Somalia's leading telecom, Hormuud, had no choice but to take a key role in battling the pandemic by helping spread the word on the pandemic and preventive measures were seen a critical to halt community transmission. This was a critical task without leaving no one behind, including the hard-to-reach areas, including Internally Displaced Person centers. According to the Ministry of Health of the Federal Republic of Somalia, as of 29 March 2021, there were 11,164 cases, 510 deaths, and 4759 patients who recovered from the disease.
As part of its Corporate Social Responsibility, Hormuud decided to provide short messages to create public awareness and educate them on COVID19 and how they can save their lives and those loved ones. The short messages option ensured that more than four million people received an educational message on COVID19 prevention that was critical to the success of halting the spread of the virus within the community. On top of this, Hormuud deployed its ringback voice service 'Nasiye to create awareness on the pandemic and preventive measures. Telecom decided to provide its platform without charges as part of its efforts to help curb the spread of the virus.
For Nasteha Abdi, a 22-year-old student residing in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, Telecom's public awareness campaign played a crucial role in saving lives.
"My mum and dad live in Galagaduud with no access to television and radio; they only hear of this disease and its dangers. In the early days of the pandemic, they were asking why the phone become a radio, but now they are used to it, and they know everything regarding the disease,"
"When you make a call, you have all the concentration and you eager to talk to someone, and that makes messages relayed via Nasiye critical to community awareness," She added.
This significance of the public awareness and the role of Hormuud has been key to the efforts to fight the pandemic.
"It was a very creative solution, and whoever came up with it should be thanked. Imagine if every person in Somalia is obliged to listen to COVID19 prevention messages; this means the message has reached every Somali person, "Ali Nur Salad, The CEO of Key Message and Media Expert, said.
"I am not aware of any other way that would have been more effective in terms of reach and impact to be used in this public awareness campaign. Some of us may have access to the Internet, Radio, and TV, but at least every person has access to a phone and makes calls and on top of this the text messages have also been significant in awareness-raising," He explained
Leading the Telecom efforts in this front is the CEO of the Horumuud Salaam Foundation, Abdullahi Osman noted that Horumuud is committed to this cause and sees the real value of using its already existing platforms to meaningfully contribute to fighting the pandemic and playing a key role in community awareness.
"As a company, we believe no amount of money is worth a human soul, our duty to humanity is far greater and while we are losing revenue in these difficult times, we are very much determined to reach as many people as we can through public awareness," Abdullahi, said.
"During the first wave of the pandemic, we knew Risk Communication and Community Engagement was key, and we joined the efforts led by the Federal Government Ministry of Health to help, as Somalia's leading telecom we had no option but to provide our platforms towards to ensure that we could reach people with information to save their lives and their loved ones,"
As Somalia battles the COVID19 resurgence, Hormuud still continues its public awareness campaigns to sensitize the public on the pandemic and provides tips, including preventive measures. With the arrival of the 1st batch of the COVAX vaccines in March and the roll-out of the vaccination program battling misinformation will be the next phase, and no doubt that public awareness will be central to this.