After the global COVID 19 pandemic, things have changed in a very swift way. The anxiety/tension among the Somaliland community has increased due to the world news of global pandemic of COVID 19 in the early months of this year 2020. This was due to the reporting number of mortality among the affected countries and also due to the speed the virus is spreading each day. Everyone was scared for his life and lives of his loved ones.
Every social media and other media outlets platform were reporting the problem of the COVID 19 and this has created stress within the general community resulting in stockpiling of food and other necessary materials. The price of the sanitation materials also skyrocketed. Some of the people were ignoring and saying this problem (COVID 19) is not for Africa one while others have put great concern over the future of the African continent and particularly in Somaliland.
As authority level, like other international governments who put some strict preventive measures to ensure the safety of their local communities, the Somaliland government also put some preventive measures and the first thing that it did was:
- Selecting Somaliland National COVID 19 prevention Committee and Regional Prevention committees that comprises of Ministry of Health, Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Information (Police and religious leaders)
- They also declared to reduce the number of International travel movements and put the population in high alert
- The religious prayers in mosques were limited
- And government asked people to be alert and do some kind of social distancing
GRT measures to address the Problem of COVID 19 in Hargeisa field office
Following measure were taken:
- The Local staff were advised to work at home so that in case of breakout of COVID 19 their safety is ensured.
- GRT held several meeting with the Hospital management, to coordinate activities and create awareness about the vulnerability of people with mental disorders.
- GRT with the goal to substitute the halt of the mental health home services, started phone mental services, which includes follow up with home-visit patients to ensure that staff and relatives of patients are contacted and their state of being is assessed. The phone calls follows all patients who have been dismissed from the Mental Health Departments and those which have been visited before. Like this GRT ensures the ongoing MHPSS support of all mental health patients.
- GRT started to put billboards with relevant messages regarding COVID 19 and mental health, distribution of awareness material and the hanging of posters with important messages related to COVID 19. Radio messages were create and broadcasted.
- Formulated a method of coordination (while working at homes) establishing a Social Media Group (GRT Hargeisa field office Staff Whatsapp and also Google meet)
- Staff were provided with some sanitation and preventive materials, and the MHD staff were also given some hygiene and sanitation materials.
- Protection of Target Group GRT had a meeting with Hospital and the MHD staff to discuss with them the situation and some preventive measures were taken including
- Minimizing and discharging the patients that are vulnerable
- Improving the hygiene and sanitation condition of the MHD and inpatients
Our recommendations to other mental health service providers:
- Do an awareness on COVID 19 and the mental health
- If you are working with mentally ill persons then protect and take preventive measures as they are one vulnerable population in the society
- Take effective measurement to minimize staff stress
- Invent new ways to reach and support people with mental disorders
- Frame you activities to address specific pandemic related stress and mental health consequences
GRT Hargeisa Team