Somalia Secures First Public Oxygen Plant to Protect Population from Delta Variant

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    Somalia’s Minister of Health, Dr. Fowzia Abikar Nor cuts ribbon with Hormuud and Turkish Embassy Officials

    Runta News-Mogadishu, Somali September 30, 2021

    Report and Pictures by Farah Warsame 

    Hormuud Salaam Foundation acquired the country’s first ever oxygen plant for public use from Turkey for €282,000, allowing for the production of 1,000 cylinders of oxygen per week. The oxygen plant was installed by engineers from the vendor and Hormuud Telecom engineers on September 28, 2021 at Banadir Maternity & Children Hospital in Mogadishu, Somalia. HSF built the plant’s US$100,000 storeroom inside the hospital. The plant will be unveiled at an event on 30 September. 

    While a limited number of privately owned oxygen plants currently exist in the country, this donation is the first dedicated for public use by the Somali healthcare system. Throughout the pandemic, low- and middle-income countries have face huge hurdles in sourcing oxygen. The arrival of this plant will have an exponential impact on the livelihoods of Somalis.

    While a limited number of privately owned oxygen plants currently exist in the country, this donation is the first dedicated for public use by the Somali healthcare system. Throughout the pandemic, low- and middle-income countries have face huge hurdles in sourcing oxygen. The arrival of this plant will have an exponential impact on the livelihoods of Somalis.

    Acquiring a single oxygen plant saves around $50,000 per week, and $2.6 billion a year on direct oxygen purchases. HSF plans to purchase more oxygen plants, with partners, to create a self-sufficient oxygen supply in Somalia. The acquisition significantly strengthens Somalia’s public health infrastructure.

    Ms. Fowsiya Abikar Nur, Federal Minister of Health and Scoial Care of Somalia welcomed the donation, stating. “Hormuud Salaam Foundation’s generous oxygen plant donation for the Federal Ministry of Health is a life-saving gift for thousands of patients suffering from Covid-19 and other severe respiratory illnesses. The plant’s arrival indeed eases a strain posed on our health system.”

    Oxygen is an important means to treat those with Covid-19, which can attack the lungs in the form of pneumonia, compromising critical organs. A third wave is looming in Somalia as the Delta variant has proven more transmissible, particularly amongst unvaccinated populations.

    In Somalia, only 1% of the population is fully vaccinated as vaccine hesitancy is high and global deliveries to Africa persist. So far, Somalia with a population of 15.5 million has only received 710,400 does from the COVAX vaccine distribution programme.

    Ms. Fartun Sharif Mohamed, Director of the Banadir Maternity & Children Hospital, commented on the donation:

    “This generous donation by Hormuud Salaam Foundation will save the lives of many of our patients, including expecting mothers. “Never again will we have to experience the uncertainty that we felt during the last coronavirus wave, when we did not know if we would be able to source enough oxygen to keep our patients alive.” 

    HSF has been helping fight the virus in Somalia since the onset of the pandemic. In 2020, HSF donated funds to build  4 a covid wings at Banadir Hospital. The facility was partially destroyed in a recent Al-Shabaab attack nearby. Part of the plant instillation at the hospital included repairing the damage.

    Hormuud Telecom has replaced its 3.6 million customers’ ringtones with up-to-date health announcements and launched Somalia’s first COVID-19 call centre, in association with the Federal Ministry of Health, which gives callers direct access to medical professionals. 

    HSF has also donated other resources to Somalia’s health infrastructure. Prior to procuring the plant, HSF donated near 3,000 cylinders of oxygen to the Federal Ministry of Health, during the last covid wave in March 2021, at a cost of $50/ cylinder. The international community has also stepped in, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has donated 400 oxygen cylinders to Somali hospitals, and 50 oxygen regulators with humidifier.

    Abdullahi Nur Osman, Chief Executive of the Hormuud Salaam Foundation, commented on the plant’s arrival. “The oxygen plant is a lifeline in the wait for vaccines. This donation is just the beginning, acting as a stopgap in Somalia’s waits for our fair share of the global vaccine delivery.

    “The Hormuud Salaam Foundation is proud to provide the first oxygen plant to Somalia, beginning our country’s journey towards a self-sufficient public supply of oxygen.

    “The oxygen plant donation strengthens Somalia’s public health infrastructure tremendously. “Despite delays the plant arrived in the nick of time, as the Delta variant poses a massive threat to Somalia and Africa as a whole.”

    The plant arrived in country at Mogadishu Port on 5 September. It was originally meant to arrive in early June 2021, but was delayed due to covid related issues along the supply chain.

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