Despite three decades of armed conflict and natural disasters, Somalia healthcare system had been showing signs of recovery courtesy of the private sector and diaspora support. Then Covid-19 struck, infecting some 2,000 people and killing over 70 others.
A study by the Heritage Institute for Policy Studies titled Somalia’s Healthcare System: Baseline Study and Human Capital Development Strategy, released in May, says Covid-19 could roll back efforts that have been made to rebuild the healthcare system.
“Somalia is recovering slowly but surely from prolonged conflicts and destruction and is making efforts to re-establish health governance structures and rebuild health institutions. It has also embraced universal health coverage as a goal for the health sector,” said Dr Ali Abdullahi Warsame on behalf of the Heritage Institute for Policy Studies and City University of Mogadishu.
The study initiated in January and released in May, sought to examine the state of healthcare relating to workforce, skills shortages and how these could be bridged.
The overall findings suggest the health workforce is slowly recovering from the effects of the civil war and subsequent state collapse, but the workforce remains critically inadequate due to complex socio-economic, security, co-ordination, planning and political obstacles. And this was before Covid-19 threatened to overwhelm the already failing health system.
Dr Warsame’s analysis finds that Somalia heath sector has been recovering slowly from prolonged conflict and destruction as the country makes efforts to re-establish health governance structures and rebuild institutions, with donor support.
There are only 9,566 healthcare professionals – physicians, nurses and midwives – operating in Somalia. This ratio of 0.34 essential health workers per 1,000 people falls far short of the WHO minimum requirement of 4.5 per 10,000 people.
“Somalia needs to recruit 97,700 physicians, nurses and midwives, or 24,350 doctors and 73,350 nurses and midwives by 2030 to achieve the Universal HealthCare, a key priority set out by both WHO and the UN General Assembly,” the study says.