Somalia and two United Nations agencies vowed on Sunday to step up efforts to scale up COVID-19 vaccination across the country amid a severe drought that is ravaging several parts of the country. According to the Somali ministry of health, the World Health Organization (WHO), and UNICEF, some of the challenges slowing COVID-19 vaccination in Somalia include limited access to specific areas due to insecurity or logistical challenges.
The joint declaration came after Somalia received 1.64 million doses of the Johnson and Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccinations provided by Sweden and the Czech Republic via the COVAX Facility on Saturday.
According to the Ministry of Health, almost 2.3 million people have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and more than 1.9 million have been partially vaccinated.
Somali Minister of Health and Human Services Ali Haji Adam Abubakar stated that the vaccines acquired by the ministry will save lives, allow for greater parity among Somalis of diverse origins, and contribute to national health goals.
“This is even more important now as the country faces a severe drought and mass displacement, leaving more people vulnerable to diseases.”
The country is on the verge of famine as a result of the ongoing drought, which has left 7.7 million people in need of humanitarian assistance and protection, as well as almost 1 million people internally displaced.
Mamunur Rahman Malik, WHO Representative in Somalia, stated that around 15% of Somalia’s population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with the other 12 percent being partially vaccinated.
Malik stated that the government and donors, as well as other partners, have employed innovative and creative approaches to reach the most vulnerable individuals, prevent the spread of COVID-19, and leverage these efforts to rebuild health systems.
“However, there is still a long way to go.”
“Somalia’s goal is to vaccinate at least 40% of its population by the end of 2022,” he added.