Emergency Response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

by International Medical Corps
Emergency Response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Sep 10, 2021

Battling Myths and Misinformation in Somalia

Female health workers raise COVID-19 awareness
Female health workers raise COVID-19 awareness

Rumors can be like viruses, spreading a disease of half-truths and lies, and damaging the health of communities. And during a pandemic, the power of rumors is magnified by the very real threat of disease and death.

“At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it became clear that misinformation was going to affect our COVID-19 response everywhere, fueling rumors about how and why the virus spreads, as well as promoting harmful remedies,” says Dr. Javed, Director of Emergency Response at International Medical Corps.

In Somalia, as part of our comprehensive, community-based COVID-19 response, International Medical Corps formed a task force of female health workers (FHWs) first to identify rumors and misinformation, and then to go into communities and share accurate information to dispel these rumors.

Rowly is one of 10 FHWs at Banow IDP Camp, one of the five IDP camps International Medical Corps supports as part of its COVID-19 response. According to Rowly, people in the camp were living in denial even as the virus spread at an alarming rate. Yet despite many people experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, there was a stigma associated with getting tested.

Hawo, a mother of six children and a resident of Banow Camp, confesses that she was skeptical about the existence of COVID-19.

“I remember when the female health workers came to my house,” she says. “I asked them what they were up to, and they told me that they wanted to share information regarding COVID-19. At first, I did not believe them or the supposed threat of COVID-19. I appreciate that they were patient with me. With their help, I am now well-versed with COVID-19—including how it’s transmitted and how to prevent it. Now I can recognize the signs and symptoms. I really appreciate their efforts.”

In addition, our teams in Somalia initiated mass information campaigns—holding COVID-19 monthly community meetings, transmitting radio messages about COVID-19 prevention, and supporting call-in sessions, also on radio, hosted by a popular doctor who addressed questions and concerns from the public.

Since our COVID-19 risk communications program in Somalia launched in June 2020, nearly 850,000 people have received information about COVID-19. Currently, our teams of FHWs and other community health workers are promoting COVID-19 vaccines and addressing any associated rumors. Together with the Somalia Ministry of Health and community leaders, we are working to ensure that government-run vaccination campaigns are as effective as possible.

With support from GlobalGiving and its community of donors, our teams in Somalia and around the world continue to combat misinformation about COVID-19 and the vaccines hoping to bring an end to this global pandemic. 

Hawo speaks with our team member about COVID-19
Hawo speaks with our team member about COVID-19
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International Medical Corps

Location: Los Angeles, CA - USA
Website:
Project Leader:
Kimberly Laney
Los Angeles, CA United States
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