New WHO Academy credits Somali health workers’ response to mass casualty events – Somalia


September 29, 2021 – Three decades after a civil war and several natural and man-made disasters, the resilience of Somali communities and health workers has been repeatedly tested. Whenever the sound of an explosion reverberates through a town or village, underfunded health facilities scattered across the country can expect to receive an influx of massive casualties.

For their part, the health workers who run these health facilities are generally under-prepared, with limited access to modern tools, equipment and skills, which limit their response and reaction to massive losses and the resulting trauma, which are ubiquitous. A primary assessment conducted by WHO in 142 hospitals in Somalia found that trauma places a heavy burden on the health system and communities, and that conflict contributes to about half of all civilian trauma cases.

Introducing modern tools, techniques and thinking through mass loss management courses

In 2020, in recognition of the situation and to support hospital teams in setting up a more efficient and effective response to mass casualties, the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Services of Somalia joined forces with the WHO Somalia, at WHO headquarters and at the WHO Eastern Regional Office. Mediterranean, with financial support from the World Bank’s Pandemic Emergency Financing Mechanism (PEF).

After a few weeks of planning, the WHO Academy organized 2 of its very first 5-day Mass Injury Management courses in January and February 2021, during which 10 expert trainers from different parts of the world trained 74 Somali doctors and nurses in Mogadishu and Hargeisa. This was the first WHO Academy-certified course organized in Africa on the management of mass casualties.

“Although almost all of the trainees were familiar with the concept of a massive emergency plan, few had the experience and many had no real idea of ​​what a plan entailed. By the end of the course, trainees were more familiar with the concept of teamwork and the design and implementation of an emergency plan. Most importantly, after 5 days of training, it was possible to see an evolving understanding of the underlying concepts and an ease in communicating with colleagues in the language of massive victims, ”said Dr Neil Shorney, Consultant Anesthesiologist, WHO trauma advisory and operational team expert. Advisor, WHO Academy Mass Casualty Management Program.

Feel better prepared to deal with massive losses

As a member of the Somali Medical Association and the Somali Pediatric Association, and currently a pediatrician at SOS Children’s Village in Somalia for 8 years, Dr Abdirahman Osman Mohamud knows how important it is for children to receive special attention. timely. After all, according to the first assessment by the WHO, about a third of all victims are children under the age of 15.

During the massive casualty training he attended in Mogadishu, Dr Mohamud learned how to activate the massive casualty management phases, prepare a massive casualty plan, and work appropriately with different areas, if the health facility was receiving children involved in an incident.

Dr Zainab Abdirahman Ali of South Galkayo Hospital reiterates the same messages. Prior to the training, none of the participants planned to deal with mass casualty incidents, but the training helped health workers, and therefore both medical and non-medical staff, use triage points to prioritize people’s needs. A practical session, in which participants had to draw a map of the hospital and divide it into triage points, also helped them discuss ideas. Dr Zainab believes the training motivated her and other doctors and nurses to save more lives.

In Hargeisa, when he was young, Dr Saddam Hussein Abdi could not understand how so many people he knew got sick and died in no time. It was and still is a standard. Years later, as a participant in the mass casualty management training organized by the WHO Academy, Dr Hussein explains to facilitators how education is a key part of a health system and will help new generations of healthcare workers, like him, to help their communities.

“So far, thanks to the WHO and the World Bank, we have had the opportunity to learn more about important topics such as the management of mass casualties and the management of hospitals, which will make us more efficient. in what we do. I was one of the lucky ones. But all doctors need opportunities like these and more.

WHO Academy inauguration ceremony

On Monday, September 27, 2021, the Director General of WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, joined HE President Emmanuel Macron of the French Republic, during a ceremony to inaugurate the work of the WHO Academy in Lyon, France, to inaugurate the construction of its futuristic campus. At the event, President Macron interviewed Somali surgeon and WHO Academy-certified injury management trainee, Dr Siyad Mohamed Abdi, about his learning experience.

Dr Abdi, who works in several hospitals in Galmudug State in Somalia, explained that the training has enabled healthcare professionals to better respond to the large number of victims and emergencies, prioritizing the needs of victims and allocating resources. resources for such events. He shared an example of how the hospital team was better prepared to deal with victims of an explosion after learning skills through training.

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