(Edmonton) Before Canadian Khaled Hashi and his team began their work in Somalia, the country of about 15 million people spoke Somali or mainly Arabic information on COVID-19 was only available in one language.
“It was all in English,” said the 30-year-old Somali-born, Ontario-born and raised in Edmonton.
Hashi says he traveled to the Horn of Africa last spring to help launch a digital information campaign to address concerns, misinformation and rumors about the novel coronavirus in a way that communities and villages can understand.
“At first, people were very hesitant to listen,” recalls Mr. Hashi. There was misinformation in all the villages. It was tough and still tough. Today, however, information about the virus is no longer circulating. People are beginning to understand how dangerous the virus is. ”
After obtaining approval from the Somali Ministry of Health, he developed a program he had set up three years ago to include videos and information about COVID-19 in local languages. Front line workers in Somalia went door-to-door in 45 villages. They continue to view videos on tablets.
This content, which really helps prevent and mitigate the risks, has spread across four regions to reach 60,000 Travelers. “There are about 100,000 posts on social media,” says Hashi.
His team has since incorporated features into the program that sends out emergency community alerts about the pandemic.
Somalia has more than 5,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including more than 1,000 active cases. Abdul Hamid Warsami, a researcher at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said about 144 people have died from the infection. Currently, it is established in Somalia and is working on a research project on COVID-19.
There is a lot of misinformation about the disease. They say it is not really present in Somalia or that it is the disease of outsiders. People don’t really take the precautions that they should. Warsam says that Khaled’s work goes a long way in trying to overcome this challenge. There have been fewer and fewer cases over time. Khaled’s experience, equipment, and distribution channels certainly contribute to the COVID-19 response in Somalia. ”
Mr. Hashi says the Somali Ministry of Health is reviewing the content of the app and making sure it resonates with communities. We are not talking about a village. We are talking about the national distribution of this content. ”
Public health videos educate residents about symptoms to look for and where to test them.
“It really helps guide people through the next steps to staying safe,” Al-Kindi said. We made the first video of a hospital we were working with to help our doctors. The doctors were showing the video to their patients. People value the content that is sent to rural communities. ”
Hashi says that some of the videos he and his team created in Arabic are also used in Yemen.
The idea came to him in 2017 during a visit to his grandmother. By accompanying him to a doctor, he learned that there are no good ways to follow Somalia’s medical records.
He ended up designing OGOW electronic medical records to store patients’ health information.
Hashi explains, “OGOW means” knowledge “of the Somali language. I named it because I know my grandmother. It’s a constant reminder of why I took this job.
This story was produced with financial assistance from the Facebook Stock Exchange and The Canadian Press for News.