1 June 2022
King’s Global Health Partnerships (KGHP) and Hargeisa Group Hospital (HGH), the largest hospital in Somaliland, have been working together to ensure the hospital can better respond to high numbers of Covid-19 cases at a critical time.
During the summer of 2020, the hospitals were coming under increased pressure, with a high number of Covid-19 cases and health workers becoming infected. HGH hosts the national referral laboratory and the Covid-19 testing service for travellers in and out of the country, receiving a large influx of visits daily and increased workload for its staff. At this early stage of the pandemic, we supported the hospital to procure personal protective equipment (PPE) and designed Covid-19 training for HGH frontline staff, equipping them with the knowledge and skills required to safely manage patients with Covid-19 and to practice a standardised triage on entry to the facility. We also provided psychosocial and wellbeing support for health workers.
In addition, we wanted to ensure the hospital was better placed to respond to any future outbreaks. A WHO assessment had found that Infection, Prevention and Control (IPC) in the hospital needed to be improved. Together with HGH management, we established a hospital IPC committee that will hold responsibility for driving IPC initiatives forward and which is now meeting regularly. This committee has already approved guidelines and standard operating procedures which were developed by a local consultant, with input from our NHS clinical volunteers. So far, 106 health workers from the hospital have been trained on the new IPC procedures, including safe handwashing techniques, use of medical waste bins and appropriate cleaning processes for the health facility.
‘We were all familiar with the concept of infection control, but this project allowed us to develop a culture to practice the proper IPC methods.’ – Hamse Ali Mahamed, HGH IPC Officer, Somaliland
‘It has been a great experience working with KGHP on the Covid- 19 response. There has been a real sense of collaboration with local delivery teams and a partnership in delivering support. I am pleased to see good examples of IPC practice adapted to support high quality care and ensure safe governance around IPC for patients and hospital staff.’ – Aneesah Peersaib, Senior Nurse Postgraduate Education, University College London Hospital and KGHP volunteer
KGHP have been delivering health system strengthening interventions in Somaliland for over two decades, and we have a long-term partnership with HGH, as well as other hospitals and health training institutions around the country. We have worked on a wide range of projects together: establishing the national medical internship, introducing clinical audit and training in mental health, and supporting effective triage and care for trauma patients. These strong relationships have contributed to the success of this project, enabling us to maximise the impact of the intervention and complete the ambitious planned activities at a time when the pressures of Covid-19 placed a large burden on health actors and communities both in the UK and in Somaliland.
The strong foundation of our partnership also enabled us to continue virtually supporting partners through this project, with the help of KGHP clinical volunteers. Being able to depend on Somaliland Ministry of Health Development colleagues, THET Somaliland programme staff and clinicians within HGH meant we were able to overcome challenges we faced and work together to successfully ensure the staff at HGH could respond to Covid-19 and other infectious disease outbreaks in the future.