The humanitarian situation calls for urgent measures to scale up COVID-19 vaccination, especially for internally displaced persons, rural communities, and nomads.
On Sunday, the Somali Health Mihister, the World Health Organization (WHO), and United Nations Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) vowed to intensify efforts to scale up COVID-19 vaccination across the country amid a severe drought.
"The humanitarian situation calls for urgent measures to scale up COVID-19 vaccination and other lifesaving humanitarian assistance, especially for internally displaced persons, rural communities, and nomads," UNICEF Representative in Somalia Wafaa Saeed Abdelatef said.
Somalia received 1.64 million doses of the Johnson and Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccines from Sweden and the Czech Republic, donated through the COVAX Facility. So far, around 2.3 million people have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and over 1.9 million people are partially vaccinated.
Somali Health Minister Ali Haji Adam Abubakar said the vaccines will save lives, enable them to create more equity between Somalis of different backgrounds, and contribute to the 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 ongoing drought has left 7.7 million people in need of humanitarian assistance and protection, and around 1 million people internally displaced.
WHO Representative in Somalia Mamunur Rahman Malik said about 15 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and 12 percent are partially vaccinated.
The government and donors have used creative ways and impactful innovations to reach the most vulnerable people, prevent the further spread of COVID-19, and leverage these efforts to rebuild health systems.
"However, we still have a long way to go. Somalia's aim is to vaccinate at least 40 percent of people by the end of 2022," Malik added.