As Somalia braces to respond effectively to the COVID-19 outbreak, life-saving essential health care services are also geared up
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to rise in Somalia, as do the associated deaths attributed to the disease. As the cases rise in number, the health systems in Somalia are facing rapidly increasing demand for patient care for COVID-19. When health systems are strained and overwhelmed, especially in fragile and vulnerable settings as in Somalia where availability of mechanical ventilators is very limited and other critical care support for patient care is basic or absent, deaths from the COVID-19 outbreak may increase substantially over time.
Given the scale and nature of the COVID-19 crisis and the immense media attention it has received, there will be growing demand and political pressure to reduce direct mortality from the outbreak. In such a situation, essential health services, including life-saving services, tend to be disrupted and all health care resources, for example, essential supplies and health personnel, are redirected in order to reduce deaths from the outbreak.
This is also exactly the type of situation where the importance of maintaining other life-saving health services during an outbreak may be forgotten, and the need for essential health care, especially for mothers, children and other vulnerable groups, may be overshadowed by headlining figures of deaths from the outbreak. It is possible that if virus transmission of this coronavirus cannot be slowed down quickly in Somalia, the surge in COVID-19 cases and the increasing demand for care will put such enormous pressure on the fragile health system that it may reach breaking point.