- Abdirahman Ahmed, Somali National University
Somalia National University-Student Club: Pandemic Roles
Somali National University- Student Club(SNU-SC) is a university registered club that has been established for the improvement and the development of the students at Somali National University. It is a not for profit and student run organization that’s managed and led by the students, with the aim of both student and community activities. Somali National University - Student Club affiliated with the YouthMappers network in January 2021.
The COVID-19 pandemic has become an excessive threat to public health, which has seriously impacted the study and life of the globe. In Somalia, the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was reported in March, the highest confirmed cases were observed in the Benadir region where we have the largest campus of Somali National University. On April 2020, the Government of Somalia announced: domestic and international flights, Quranic schools, schools, universities, public gatherings and group celebrations to be closed, and people were restricted to leave their houses.
Since then, the country faces one of the greatest emergency challenges in decades. As national university students, SNU-SC started programs to respond to the threat of an outbreak in the country. With the collaboration of the Government and the Ministry of Health, one of our first key works to tackle the pandemic was to set up an emergency COVID-19 Call Center. The emergency number is open 24h/7 and run by young volunteers mostly from the SNU-SC.
In total, we received at least 8,000 calls a day from the public.
Some callers are given advice; those with the symptoms of the disease are taken to designate Hospitals by an ambulance service. Doctors who work at the helpline are divided into three teams so that callers can quickly get the most suitable response.
The first team provides general information on the virus including the transmission pathways, symptoms of the disease and how to keep safe. While the second team deals with less serious cases and advises callers to visit the hospital if necessary. The third team deals with critical cases, providing advice and arranging ambulances to De Martini Hospital, which has been central to testing, case detection and critical care support in Somalia.
These services are critical in a country where health education is limited and there are widely held misunderstandings of the disease. The public hugely praised our activity of this helpline and the center is still active after 11 months of its establishment.
Food distribution for Internal Displaced Persons (IDPs)
The outbreak of the coronavirus in Somalia has made life extremely difficult for the most vulnerable, especially refugees with many at risk of going hungry. During the holy month of Ramadan, in the past year of 2020 and the midst of the pandemic, SNU-SC provided lifesaving food assistance to some 500 IDPS families mainly women and children.
The student club covers a one-month supply of food and Eid Celebration costs including clothes, children toys and pocket money. We are also ready to plan to do so again in the upcoming month of Ramadan if the situation remains the same.
About the Author:
Abdirahman Ahmed is a graduate student of the faculty of veterinary medicine at Somali National University. Abdi is a long term advocate of animal rights and welfare and a prominent social activist. He is currently a senior consultant to the SNU-SC.