By Abdi Mohamud
COVID-19 is still ravaging the world like wildfire and no nation or group has escaped from its devastating impact. It has touched every citizen of the world. People have lost their jobs, businesses, income, and many confined to their homes. Reports are also indicating that over 3 million people have been infected with COVID-19, while deaths associated with this pandemic are estimated well above 230,000 (www.coronavirus.jhu.edu). This unprecedented situation shows the vulnerability and inability of the world to manage this sudden outbreak. The world saw the only way forward was to impose a complete lockdown on its population. This will give the world a short reprieve, but it is not a long term solution as experts are predicting that COVID-19 may stay with us for 18 months or even longer.
Scientists are racing to develop a vaccine that will enable humanity to stop the spread of this deadly disease. The US, UK, China and many other countries have instructed their top minds to find an effective remedy to this pandemic. Yet this is no guarantee that such efforts will produce the desired results. Experts are cautioning the public that there is a possibility of not succeeding in developing a vaccine. Their assessment is based on past experiences in which effective vaccine development attempts for similar outbreaks failed. The world spared no efforts to get a vaccine for Ebola, Zika virus and Sars outbreaks, but no success was achieved and things may not be different this time around.
The rich, economically wealthy countries are coping with this pandemic better due to the abundant resources they have. Some have the ability to meet the needs of their entire population for 3 to 6 months, keeping everyone at home to limit the spread of the disease. They are even aiding businesses, including big corporations, by granting them interest free loans and putting plans in place to give more cash when the economy opens.
Poor countries in Africa, Asia and South America are lacking the financial, technological, and intellectual resources possessed by the wealthy countries. In addition, they may not get much assistance from the developed world as each country is struggling to stay above the water and tend to its own citizens. During the Zika, Ebola and SARS epidemics, the situation was different because, in most cases, those outbreaks were localized. The world came together and directed a great deal of resources towards combating these diseases in their places of origin – Ebola in West Africa and Zika in Brazil.
In the light of this, it is imperative that Somalis come together and scale up their already ongoing efforts to minimize the impact of COVID-19. Daily updates, given by the Federal Minister of the Health Ministry in Somalia, indicate the infection rate is rising daily. The Minister, Dr. Fawziya Abikar, reported in her update of 30 April 2020 that over 50 new cases were documented in Mogadishu. According to Minister Abikar, 601 people are infected with COVID-19, while the death toll reaches 28. Numbers could be higher because many people are reluctant to seek medical assistance.
People choose to stay home when sick due to certain factors such as lack of transportation to health centers, underestimating the severity of the disease, and relying on Allah’s power to heal them. Contrary to this notion, Islam encourages people to seek medical help. This is concerning as Somalia has been unable to flatten the curve so far. This is a clear indication that we have not done enough to curb COVID-19. We need to do more than offer prayers, condolences, and well wishes. We need to go beyond sentimentality and take concrete steps that will lead to success and save our people from the perdition of Covid-19.
Therefore, fellow Somalis, I am proposing that we should pool our resources, competence and commitment and create the COVID-19 Emergency Fund for Somalia. Doing nothing is not an option. We have to act now and make the creation of this fund a reality. This fund will be a sort of central charity that receives and distributes donations to all regions of Somalia in a transparent and equitable manner. It is estimated that over 2 million Somalis live in Europe, North America, the Middle East, as well as Eastern and Southern Africa. There is no doubt that this time is difficult for everyone, yet I am confident that lots of people in those places mentioned above have the ability to give $20 donations on a monthly basis. If 10% of the 2 million contributes $20 per person that will give $4,000,000 a month.
This is a significant amount that will give us the ability to purchase necessary supplies such as face masks, hand sanitizers, ventilators and so on. We can also build public toilets, hand sanitizing stations and communal water stations with these donations. Such projects can be implemented in the major urban centres and camps where internally displaced persons (IDPs) live.
Fellow Somalis, this is doable. In fact, many communities that live in the west are doing it and achieving success. So it is essential that we unite to save our people from COVID-19. We should also encourage our youth who were born or grew up abroad to participate in this project. Making them conscious of their responsibility for their people is one of the ways we can leave a good legacy for them. Our collective actions will make a difference in the lives of many people who do not have essential things in life – food, clean water, shelter. Numbers matter, so let us work together and produce satisfactory, lofty success.
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