[CAVIE-ACCI] Hormuud Telecom, Somalia’s leading telecommunications firm, have today announced a set of measures in the fight against COVID-19. As of 25 April 2020, 328 cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in Somalia. While some international aid has been forthcoming, fake news and disinformation are hindering the communication efforts to slow the spread of the virus.
The ability to disseminate accurate public health information to the Somali population will be vital to averting the widespread contraction of COVID-19. Digital inclusion will allow the most vulnerable and marginalised groups, such as rural communities and those with low levels of literacy, to gain access to life-saving information that can slow the spread of the virus.
As the largest telecommunications firm in Somalia, Hormuud have (in partnership with the Somali Ministry of Health) taken steps to counter this fake news and disinformation by:
- Creating a free hotline and call centre solution to the Ministry of Health for Somali citizens.
- Assisting in broadcasting public health announcements through Social Media Platforms.
- Creating free voice messages for up to 3.5 million Somali mobile users to highlight safety and hygiene measures that can be implemented to combat COVID-19. This is to ensure that those with lower rates of literacy can take the necessary precautions.
Commenting on the steps taken, CEO, Ahmed Mohamud Yuusuf, said “We are at a vital juncture in Somali, and indeed African, history. As cases of COVID-19 rise across the continent, mobile communication has never been more important. “The ability to deliver accurate public health information to large populations (as well as the ability to counter misinformation) will prove vital in our ability to stem the spread of the virus.”
Relief aid efforts
Hormuud Telecoms and The Hormuud Foundation, the philanthropic wing of the company, have also taken steps to support relief efforts through aid provision This has included:
- Donating US$2,000,000 of which $500,000 will be used to rebuild four sections of Banaadir Hospital, which are being used as COVID 19 response centre.
- Deploying 2 ambulances to help frontline health workers tackle coronavirus
- Allocating $350,143 to coincide with Ramadan, which will undertake various initiatives, such as:
- Supporting prisoners at Mogadishu Central prison.
- Providing food and other essential items to COVID-19 patients and medics at Martini Hospital.
- Helping Somali Military Veterans at De Martino Hospital and patients at Habeeb Mental Hospital.
- Provide support to the orphans of the Somali Police Force.
- Providing support to the most marginalized and vulnerable in society, including orphans, disabled people and low-income women.
- Assisting Yemeni refugees in Mogadishu.
Further to this, Hormuud have begun to work to support those in Internally Displaced People’s (IDPs) camps. The number of Somalis currently living in displacement camps having been uprooted by cycles of drought and violence stands at 2.2 million. These are among some of the most vulnerable refugees in the world. Hormuud have taken steps to support these camps by distributing food packages as well as an additional $500,000 of cash handouts.
Speaking on the relief efforts, CEO, Ahmed Mohamud Yuusuf, said “We are appealing to our partners in the international community to stand with us in this challenging time to support us in our efforts to combat this crisis and prepare for the economic consequences that may follow. “Not only may these consequences set Somalia’s hard fought for economic progress back, they also pose a significant threat to the nation’s security and stability. “It is imperative that the international community works with Somalia to flatten the COVID-19 transmission curve and safeguard the countries future.”
The Editorial Staff (with TT and HMB)