UN donates telemedicine devices to boost healthcare services in Somalia

MOGADISHU, Jan. 8 (Xinhua) -- The UN migration agency said Friday it has donated telemedicine devices to help Somalia provide improved healthcare services in hospitals and clinics across the country.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said through funding from the multi-donor Somalia Humanitarian Fund (SHF), it handed over digital devices and office equipment to the ministry of health to support the introduction of telemedicine in Somalia's health system.

"This project will link doctors in Somalia with experts abroad and in other parts of the country to complement the diaspora program which physically places diaspora doctors in the country," Kerry Kyaa, IOM's Senior Health expert, said in a statement issued in Mogadishu.

"Telemedicine will also mitigate the limitations placed by COVID-19 on international travel and physical distancing," Kyaa added.

He said the expert doctors will help those on the frontlines with clinical diagnosis and will give real-time recommendations for patient management and reduce morbidity and mortality. This will be achieved through the setup of collaboration systems to facilitate videoconferencing and teleconsultation.

The donation includes screens, video cameras, a PC, video conference equipment and 50 iPads.

Somalia's health system has been significantly damaged by years of conflict and recurrent humanitarian crises, and most of the health care workers working on the frontlines against COVID-19 and other diseases of epidemic potential have limited expertise and experience of treating critically ill patients.

IOM said the new telemedicine project aims to set up the necessary facilities to enable these local medical professionals to access a growing body of health knowledge and expertise inside and outside the country.

"Knowledge-transfer resulting from this project will pave the way to revolutionizing the Somalia healthcare system through a systematic knowledge-transfer to improve healthcare service provision in the country," said the UN migration agency.

Due to the current COVID-19 situation, IOM said it has been increasingly difficult to recruit senior health care workers to respond to the urgent demand for expertise to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fawziya Abikar Nur, Somalia Health Minister said the tools will help training health professionals to overcome geographical barriers and increase access to health services across the country.

"IOM has done a great job with the ministry of health before, during, and after COVID-19. This telemedicine project is very crucial for the health sector and the people in Somalia will benefit immensely from it," Nur said.

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