Reaching communities in Somalia
Humans deserve human worthy service – this is one of the key principles of Alight, formerly the American Refugee Committee (ARC). The organization works in countries across the world to build a meaningful life for and with the displaced, with integrated healthcare and Nutrition services an integral part of this.
For Mahat Mohamed, an assistant nurse in Somalia, key to this principle is ensuring that children and mothers in the community are connected to healthcare. He sees children under five throughout the day, with the main two common diagnoses being diarrhea and acute respiratory infection.
His role as a frontline health provider is against a backdrop of ongoing insecurity and armed conflict in Somalia, which has resulted in an estimated 2.6 million internally displaced people, many of whom are vulnerable to violence, injury, and sickness. Maternal and child health services are the primary focus of Alight’s health clinics, with displacement and harsh weather condition resulting in high rates of mortality for maternal and childhood illnesses that should be easily preventable and/or treatable. Even without the COVID-19 global pandemic, Somalia’s different types of refugee system creates a constant flow of new people leaving and entering, increasing the spread of communicable and surveillance prone diseases such as respiratory infection syndrome, water diarrhea, and skin diseases like scabies. Pregnant women and children under the age of five are most susceptible, and without proper treatment, these typically life-threatening condition coupled with illnesses can lead to more severe health problems and even death.
Mr. Mohamed, who’s own family are in Kenya, says his job is incredibly meaningful, especially when he screens a child, and the results show that they are healthy. His daily routine includes waking up at 05h30 for prayers, exercising and then stopping at the market for breakfast on his way to the health facility. He has worked for Alight for two years, giving him a steady income that allows him to support his family back home.
In September 2019, Alight’s country office invested in THINKMD’s clinical intelligence platform to improve the quality of healthcare delivered across four regions in Somalia and Somaliland. The technology is integrated into health clinics in Somalia to improve the quality of ongoing lifesaving health responses.
“It is easy to access the ThinkMD app as user friendly even without internet, and I know how to interpret the diagnosis,” Mr. Mohamed explains.
His sentiments are echoed by Ladan Abdullahi Ali, a head nurse in Kaahda MCH of Banadir region of Somalia who works closely with children under five as well as pregnant and new mothers. She says, “With THINKMD’s technology, we are able to decide what treatment they need, what care they need, if they need supplements or medicine.” With doctors inaccessible most of the time, Ms. Ali explains that it is very helpful to be able to use THINKMD’s platform to do a high-quality clinical assessment. The digital tool is also useful, where before they would write everything down or the hustle of referring to written guidelines that might not be available sometimes.
As someone who always knew that she wanted to be a nurse, Ms. Ali recently received a master’s degree in public health. One of her greatest challenges is how many patients they see in a day – sometimes over 70 which translate to high caseload and above the recommended standards for a clinician. Each patient needs to be given adequate time for a clinical assessment, but they also want to make sure that each patient is attended to before the health facility closes. These moms and children face overcrowding, financial insecurity, malnutrition and thus rely heavily on the health facility for support.
“When I finish work, I feel happy that I helped the ones that needed healthcare. When they come to us, they know the service is free because if they are worried that their baby is sick, they cannot afford to go to private hospitals. Communities thrive when they are healthy, and I contribute to that,” Ms. Ali says.
For Mukhtar Abdi Abdullahi, nurse and father of seven children, he has seen the impact of expensive health facilities. Because of this, children in the community often do not get the healthcare services they need, which means he often sees them come into the health facility later than necessary, with respiratory problems and diarrhea being the common disease. Contaminated drinking water plays a role too. With THINKMD’s platform, he says they are now asking questions that they previously did not throughout his eight years with Alight, facilitating high quality patient examinations. He explains, “We used to write everything down on a card, including the individual’s history and the possible diagnosis. Then they would move onto registration – it took very long.”
Streamlining access to high quality healthcare is just one step in creating healthy communities, however. Mr. Mohamed’s hope for Somalia is to see reduced rates of malnutrition among children, which is often a result of low financial resources. He wants to see job opportunities increase and internal conflict improved. With Alight, THINKMD is working to help them achieve its mission: to inspire and unleash abundance in every person, inspiring to unlock the limitless potential.
Generally, the ThinkMD innovation continues to support the frontline healthcare workers make a accurate decision in providing quality health services, generation of effective database system and satisfactory health outcome for the clients or beneficiaries.