WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean pays a visit to Somalia

Mogadishu, 9 May 2022 – On 9 May 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari arrived in Somalia for a 3-day visit. He was accompanied by the Director of Business and Operations Services of the WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean Dr Sussan Bassiri.

The Federal Minister of Health and Human Services HE Dr Fawziya Abikar Nur other high-level government officials and the WHO Representative to Somalia Dr Mamunur Rahman Malik extended a warm welcome to Dr Al-Mandhari, who is visiting Somalia for the second time since 2019. He is visiting Somalia at a time when the country is rolling out an Essential Package of Health Services (EPHS 2020). The development and implementation of the EPHS 2020 is seen as the largest public sector project in the history of Somalia that aims to increase access to health care, improve health services delivery and coverage using the primary health care approach. WHO has supported the development of the EPHS 2020 of Somalia through a broad range of technical support involving its Regional Office and headquarters, which includes a burden of disease analysis costing, as well as design of cost-effective but high-impact interventions to be delivered at different levels of care. The EPHS 2020 will be financed by the World Bank and the Global Financing Facility over the next 5 years over a budget outlay of US$ 100 million. The EPHS 2020 will be the main driver of the country to achieve universal health coverage.

The WHO country office will continue to support the Ministry of Health and Human Services of the Federal Government of Somalia to roll out the EPHS in the country, as well as the delivery of other impactful interventions to protect health, save lives and build a resilient health systems through its recently developed "Country Cooperation Strategy for WHO and Somalia 2021–2025".

As part of his programme, Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari met HE Dr Fawziya Abikar Nur and other officials of the ministry at her office on 9 May 2022 and discussed the ongoing collaborative programme between her ministry and the WHO country office. The WHO Regional Director thanked the Minister for her leadership over the past 5 years and expressed appreciation of her key role in guiding health sector reforms in the country and working relentlessly to improve the health and well-being of the population in a most challenging, complex and fragile context. The WHO Regional Director recalled that these reforms that she initiated for the health sector will go a long way in achieving universal health coverage and support implementation of WHO's regional Vision 2023: Health for all by all.

The WHO Regional Director also visited the De Martino Hospital in Mogadishu – the main public hospital that serves the capital city of the country and was the main hospital in the country treating COVID-19 patients. The WHO Regional Director lauded the health workers for their hard work in saving lives with limited resources and in the face of multiple challenges.

While addressing the health workers, Dr Al-Mandhari further reiterated that in line with the spirit of Vision 2023 “Health for all by all”, WHO would continue to support Somalia to strengthen the health system, infrastructure and health care workers’ skills, while concurrently preparing for and responding to any health emergencies that may arise.

Later on, Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari accompanied by HE Dr Fawziya Abikar Nur and other high-level government officials, visited 2 landmark achievements stemming from WHO's COVID-19 response activities. First, they visited the new Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) oxygen plant that was installed at the De Martino Hospital with support from WHO, which is helping to fill a large gap in high-grade medical oxygen availability in the country for COVID-19 and other health conditions. The containerized duplex PSA system is serving 25 intensive care unit beds while concurrently refilling 100 40-litre oxygen cylinders per day. WHO plans to set up similar containerized duplex PSA plants in several other locations as part of the Organization’s vision to bridge medical oxygen access gaps in hospitals and primary level care.

After viewing the PSA plant, the Minister and Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari paid a visit to the National Public Health Reference Laboratory (NPHRL) in Mogadishu, where the Regional Director saw just how far Somalia had come with respect to laboratory testing and the newly developed capacity for genome sequencing. The NPHRL was supported by WHO in 2020 at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to attain molecular diagnostic capacity for testing of SARS-COV-2 when there was no testing facility for COVID-19 in the country. The NPHRL using rt-PCR is now able to test and detect COVID-19, as well as other epidemic and pandemic-prone pathogens in real-time In March 2022, WHO supported the NPHRL to build genome sequencing capacity that will help the country to detect and monitor circulation of new variants of COVID-19, influenza viruses, map genomes of other bacteria and viruses of epidemic and pandemic potential.

“Our Regional Director’s second visit to Somalia is an honour for the WHO Somalia country office and for the country. It shows WHO’s commitment to Somalia in responding to emergencies, while re-establishing resilient health systems that can cope with the impact of calamities, as well as any future emergencies. WHO will continue to develop strong foundations in health across the country and strive to build a fairer and equitable health system that serves all and not just a few," said Dr Mamunur Rahman Malik, WHO Representative to Somalia.

For additional information, please contact:

Kyle DeFreitas, Lead – External Relations, WHO Somalia <>

Fouzia Bano, Communications Officer / Chief of Staff a.i., WHO Somalia <>

Note to editors Please see the link below for additional information on the WHO Regional Director’s last mission to Somalia, in September 2019, where Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari launched the country’s roadmap to universal health coverage, together with the Federal Minister of Health and Human Services and WHO Representative to Somalia.

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