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1st National Institute of Health conference lays foundation for health research in Somalia

Somalia’s National Institute of Health (NIH), working in collaboration with the country’s Federal Ministry of Health and Human Services, WHO, and the Swedish Public Health Agency Somalia is holding the 1st NIH Research Conference from 30th January through 1 February 2022 in Puntland.

The conference has provided a platform for students to showcase, through presentation of abstracts, their capacity in different aspects of Public Health as well as find evidence based solutions to Public Health problems in Somalia. The NIH works towards leveraging existing resources across sectors, such as water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), points of entry, research, surveillance, response to diseases, laboratory and others. 

Applauding the effort of the NIH, the Federal Minister of Health and Human Services Dr Fawziya Abikar Nur, said: “The NIH has made great strides in ensuring a health journey for Somalia. It is now upon us to be at the forefront of improving Health Care in the country,” she said. “The NIH is on a path of growth towards realizing its goals and visions and making important strides in discovering ways to improve the health of the Somali.”

Representing the Director of the African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET), Senior Epidemiologist Dr Hebert Kazoora said the value and role of research in health cannot be overemphasized arguing that “it is key priority in proving useful information on diseases and other public health threats, their trends, burden and risk factors in populations, treatment outcomes and effectiveness of prevention and control measures among others. AFENET is honoured to be part and to witness this first step for laying the foundation for health research in Somalia.” 

He further explained that in August 2021, AFENET collaborated with the federal ministry of health and the NIH to establish a Field Epidemiology Training Program in Somalia. The in service, competency based training program aims at enhancing the capacity of public health workers to be able to conduct effective disease surveillance data collection, analysis, interpretation, reporting, outbreak investigation and response, public health operational research and scientific communication.

“The operational research undertaken by FETP trainees will greatly contribute to the strong foundation for heath research in Somalia. The information generated will inform the public health actions that need to be taken to avert morbidities and mortalities due to emerging and endemic health threats in Somalia. Twenty-one officers graduated from the Frontline FETP on 25 January 2022 and these add to the foundation that is being laid today,” said Dr. Kazoora.

Other key delegates at the conference included Dr Marina Madeo of WHO, and Dr Abdifatah Ahmed, the NIH Director and Incident Management Team Leader, Ministry of Health and Human Services, Somalia.

Dr Madeo, the WHO Representative speaking at the 1st NIH Research Conference in Somalia.