Ramadan, cultural myths blames for Somalia's low COVID-19 vaccination rate

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MOGADISHU, Somalia - The just ended Holy month of Ramadan and some cultural myths, and, or misinformation has been attributed to Somalia's low COVID-19 vaccination rate, in a move that could expose thousands of people, who risk contracting the dangerous virus.

Somalia is one of the worst-hit countries by the novel COVID-19 pandemic, but due to an almost dysfunctional healthcare system, it's difficult to estimate the number of people who have contracted, died, or recovered from the virus.

However, the country estimates that almost 6,000 people have tested positive for the virus while at least 160 have succumbed. But the number of recoveries is quite impressive especially in Banadir, Puntland, and the Jubaland states which are the worst hit.

Last month, Somalia received 300,000 doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine in March, but health officials say less than half the doses have been used. The vaccine is meant to curb the spike in the spreading of the virus which could be rather catastrophic to the entire country.

Authorities attribute the slow uptake to fasting during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and misinformation about the vaccine itself. The Muslim fraternity has been praying for the last one month and today marked the end of the busy months.

She added: "We also have issues of misinformation related to Covid-19 vaccines. Most of this emanated in Europe where people were told of blood clots and a number of issues. Most of them fear getting the jab, and this is the other reason."

Abdinasir Ibrahim Moalimu, a doctor who operates in the main call center, said most people have been calling inquiring about the Covid-19 pandemic. However, he adds, a number of them have been raising questions about the efficiency of the virus.

Most regions like Puntland have been enforcing safety measures among others, wearing facemasks, keeping social distancing, and washing hands as precautionary measures. There is also advice against social gatherings in several regions across Somalia.

GAROWE ONLINE

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