WHO and Ministry of Health leverage innovation to create environmentally friendly and climate-resilient health systems – Somalia

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Mogadishu, 26 June 2022 – From 13 to 17 June 2022, the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Services and the World Health Organization (WHO) Country Office for Somalia hosted a technical mission from the headquarters of WHO and the Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean, composed of experts from the new Innovation Hub team, as well as the Environment, Climate Change and Health team. The mission aimed to bring together key partners, including UN agencies, non-governmental organizations and donors, to explore and advocate for ways to strengthen the Somali health system using climate-friendly solutions, such as the use of solar energy to provide oxygen and electrify health. facilities, especially in remote and hard-to-reach places.

The global climate crisis, identified as the greatest health crisis facing humanity today, has resulted in an extreme phenomenon of droughts and floods that occur every year in Somalia. Meanwhile, the ongoing drought has left Somalia on the brink of famine, with 6.1 million people food insecure and 1.7 million people suffering from extreme levels of hunger.

Coupled with high rates of indoor air pollution, caused by the use of fossil fuels in households, and air temperatures that are expected to rise each year, these conditions are preparing an inevitable health storm in a country already brittle.

WHO has installed 3 solar powered medical oxygen systems in Dhushamareb, Baidoa and Kismayo. The first plant, set up in early 2021 in Dhushamareb, paved the way for replication and eventual expansion, as there was a 96% survival rate among children admitted to this hospital with asphyxia at the birth, pneumonia and other medical conditions requiring immediate intervention. Oxygen therapy. These children may have lost their lives without access to the high quality medical oxygen provided by this innovative system.

“During our innovative journey to improve access to medical oxygen, we discovered that the need for a reliable source of electricity can be met by using solar energy. Innovation can make this feasible and sustainable development in Somalia. Therefore, we are now considering the possibility of using solar energy to provide enough electricity to power entire health facilities – from medical oxygen and refrigerators for vaccines, to incubators, lighting and operating theatres,” said HE Dr Fawziya Abikar Nur, Minister of Health and Human Services, Federal Government of Somalia.

After a visit to the solar-powered oxygen plant at Hanano Hospital in Dhushamareb, the Acting Director of the Department of Digital Health and Innovation and Head of Unit at the WHO Innovation Center , Louise Agersnap, urged partners to reflect on the situation in Somalia. “What makes a pregnant woman travel hundreds of miles to deliver a baby she can hold? It is this ‘beacon’ of a hospital that has reliable solar electricity that can guarantee a safe birth,” she said. “Innovation is a tool for solving problems, and in this case we have solved many of them at once. Somalia is leading the way and we at the WHO Innovation Center are proud to collaborate with the government and the WHO country team. Their innovative use of solar energy is bringing multiple gains to the country – saving lives; reducing healthcare costs; and preserving the environment through to the use of green and renewable energies.

“Delaying action would be tantamount to refusing to act,” said Salvatore Vinci, the WHO’s sustainable energy adviser. “We need to act now to help more health facilities gain access to electricity through solar energy. Somalia presents the best case for investing in solar power in health centers ─ with hours of sunshine, limited and expensive electricity, and hospitals without reliable power. »

While explaining how facility electrification could help, Heather Adair-Rohani, Technical Officer and Head of Unit for Air Quality, Energy and Health at WHO, said: “ Electrification of health facilities with solar energy can ensure access to quality essential services for women and children, promote the utilization of health services, reduce health care costs, while protecting our climate.

Dr Mamunur Rahman Malik, WHO Representative in Somalia and Head of Mission, stressed: “There is no alternative to oxygen. Pneumonia is one of the most common causes of child death in Somalia. Every child and every human being has the right to breathe clean air, drink clean water and access good quality health services. It is incumbent on all of us to ensure that every Somali has access to these fundamental human rights, using innovative and climate-friendly solutions.

For more information, please contact:

Khadar Hussein Mohamud, Head of Coordination and Communications, Ministry of Health, Federal Government of Somalia, [email protected]

Abdirahman Ahmed Ali, Communications Officer, Ministry of Health, Federal Government of Somalia, [email protected]

Fouzia Bano, Acting Chief of Staff, WHO Somalia, Head of Communications, [email protected]

Kyle DeFreitas, WHO Somalia External Relations Manager, [email protected]

Note to Editors

The SDG3 Global Action Plan (SDG3-GAP), made up of 13 agencies, Grand Challenges Canada and innovator Dr. Michael Hawkes, has supported the world’s first solar-powered oxygen plant in Dhushamareb.

Please visit the following links for more information:

Counting Every Breath: Leveraging the COVID-19 Response to Increase Access to Medical Oxygen in Somalia

WHO EMRO | WHO and EU hand over life-saving medical oxygen plant to Somalia: historic achievement to close oxygen supply gaps in the country | News | Somalia website

Solar-powered medical oxygen systems are saving lives in Somalia: using innovation to accelerate impact in a fragile environment

How a dark night brought bright light in the fight against COVID-19

Counting Every Breath: A Data-Driven Strategy to Improve Access to Medical Oxygen for COVID-19 Patients in Somalia

Every Breath Matters: Using the COVID-19 Response to Increase Oxygen Access

Survival analysis of critically ill patients with COVID-19 admitted to hospital in Somalia: how important was oxygen?

Solar oxygen delivery to Somalia: the vital need beyond COVID-19

Historic moment for Somalia as COVID-19 vaccines arrive via COVAX facility

WHO EMRO | Quarterly Technical Program Updates | Information Resources | Somalia website

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