Home / News and Blog / Covid-19 / Volunteering in a Time of COVID-19
Back to blog

Volunteering in a Time of COVID-19

9 August 2021


With funding from Health Education England, THET offers Global Health Virtual Volunteering Opportunities which enable volunteers to remotely support health system strengthening in low- and middle-income countries. Dr Rachel Perry is a virtual volunteer who has been working closely with Nura Aided Ibrahim and Dr Manal Gas to develop Somaliland’s COVID-19 preparedness and response. In this blog, they share their reflections on the project.



“As a healthcare worker in Somaliland who has worked throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, I can happily say that we have come a long way in fighting against the virus. I am grateful to THET for the endless support they provided through partnering with the Ministry of Health Development. At the beginning of the pandemic, it was difficult for us to manage our patients as we were not prepared for such an outbreak. Fortunately, we have learned how to cope with our new reality, and we couldn’t have done it without the support of our international community.

We had many mutual learning opportunities that enabled us to directly interact with the frontline NHS workers in COVID-19 wards, such as Dr Rachel. We appreciate all the different kinds of support we have received, such as the case management training, which helped us become more confident in effectively managing patients.” – Dr Manal Gas, Somaliland Ministry of Health Development (MoHD)

“Somaliland’s health system faces many challenges. The country is not recognised by the international community, and only 4% of its national income is allocated to health. The pandemic-induced financial crisis meant that international support for primary health care services declined, further weakening the country’s health system. To combat this, THET worked with the Somaliland Ministry of Health Development to support the country’s COVID-19 response plan, which included the revision of national COVID-19 guidelines. The main goal of this project was to capacitate the Somaliland MoHD healthcare workers and improve the services provided to the Somaliland population. A total of 140 healthcare workers were trained on case management, referral and infection, prevention, and control.

I am grateful to Dr Rachel for the time she invested in revising the national guidelines, while also dealing with the reality of the pandemic in the UK. Similarly, I am grateful to Dr Manal, who provided input to the guidelines while also supporting hospitals in Somaliland during the pandemic.” – Nura Aided Ibrahim (THET Country Director for Somaliland/Somalia)

“The last few months have allowed me to develop my skills in producing training materials and using and adapting guidelines. Doing a virtual volunteer programme enabled me to support essential healthcare delivery overseas, which I would not have otherwise been involved in as a full-time NHS doctor. At times, it was challenging to fit volunteering around my work as an NHS doctor, particularly during the second wave of the pandemic in the UK. However, the work gave me a greater appreciation of the challenges that low-resource countries are facing at this time. The three of us regularly met online to discuss the culture and healthcare provision in Somaliland, ensuring that the guidelines and training programme was relevant and appropriate for the context in which it would be used. Although it would have been nice to meet in-person and see the outcomes of the project in real life, I certainly learnt a lot from these meetings. Going forward from here, I hope to study Public Health alongside my clinical work so that I can take on further opportunities similar to this.” – Dr Rachel Perry (Royal United Hospital, Bath)

This post was written by:

Dr Manal Gas, Nura Aided Ibrahim and Dr Rachel Perry - THET Virtual Volunteering Programme

1 Comment

  • Margaret Ekel
    06 Sep 2021 18:20
    This has been a very good new way of learning and case management for cash- constraint nation. I am very interested in the virtual learning to learning more about handling the pandemic.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.