SOMALIA / COVID-19 RESPONSE

29-Jun-2020 00:05:20
The progress made in testing COVID-19 samples at Somalia’s primary reference laboratory was hailed as critical to the Somali response to the coronavirus pandemic by the United Nations envoy to the country – and with an important role to play in its future. UNSOM
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STORY: SOMALIA / COVID-19 RESPONSE
TRT: 5:20
SOURCE: UNSOM
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 29 JUNE 2020, MOGADISHU, SOMALIA
SHOTLIST
1. Wide shot, UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, James Swan, arriving
2. Close up, National Public Health Reference Laboratory (NPHRL)
3. Med shot, laboratory technicians working on samples
4. Close up, sample
5. Close up, laboratory technician
6. Close up, laboratory technician testing a sample
7. Med shot, a laboratory technician testing a sample
8. Wide shot, the samples being taken processing
9. Wide shot, Swan and other officials inspecting the laboratory
10. Med shot, Director of NPHRL Dr. Sahra Isse Mohamed taking Swan on a guided tour of the facility
11. Close up, real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)-based testing machine
12. Med shot, laboratory technicians at work
13. Close up, Swan and other officials inspecting
14. Med shot, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)-based testing machine
15. SOUNDBITE (English) James Swan, Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Somalia:
“We are very impressed with what you have been able to accomplish here and we are honoured to be your partners. We in the UN family have all learned how important testing is for determining both the health of individual patients and more broadly what’s happening with this Coronavirus pandemic. The work that you are doing on testing here is absolutely critical to the COVID response.”
16. Close up, Polymerase Chain Reaction room
17. Med shot, laboratory technicians
18. Close up, laboratory technician at work
19. Med shot, laboratory technicians working
20. Pan right, laboratory
21. Med shot, a technician working on a sample
22. Close up, sample
23. Med shot, a laboratory technician
24. Close up shot, samples
25. SOUNDBITE (English) James Swan, Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Somalia:
“And as there are future diseases, as there are future medical or pandemic requirements, you and your team at this laboratory will be able to respond. So we really see this as both a short-term response – together, Somalis and the UN, and other international partners – a short-term response on COVID, but a longer-term investment and commitment to the future of this laboratory and the work you are doing on behalf of the Somali people.”
26. Wide shot, a laboratory technician working
27. Med shot, laboratory technicians
28. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr. Mamunur Rahman Malik, Country Representative for Somalia, World Health Organisation (WHO):
“On 9th of April, this laboratory became functional for testing COVID-19 samples. Since that time, we have supported this laboratory to become operational and also to test as many samples as possible because laboratories always play an important role for not only detection but also play an important role for us to increase our understanding on the way the virus is circulating and how we can monitor the virus circulation in this country.”

29. Close up, samples
30. Med shot, a laboratory technician working on samples
31. Pan left, NPHRL Director Dr. Sahra Isse Mohamed, taking the UN envoy on a guided tour of the facility
32. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr. Mamunur Rahman Malik, Country Representative for Somalia, World Health Organisation (WHO):
“So, the investment we have made on this lab is an investment for the future. This laboratory will for years be able to detect any unknown and novel pathogens be it respiratory in origin, be it viral, be bacterial in origin. Moving forward, we will also make further investment on this lab so that this laboratory can be upgraded to biosafety level 3.”
33. Pan right, laboratory
34. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr. Sahra Isse Mohamed, Director, National Public Health Reference Laboratory (NPHRL):
“We are really grateful for the help by WHO. We have been able to do COVID-19 testing here in Mogadishu. Before this, we used to send COVID samples to Nairobi, KEMRI Lab, and now we have two PCRs here in Mogadishu, one PCR in Hargeisa and one PCR in Garowe. Thanks to WHO that it procured this equipment very fast, during the COVID pandemic.”
35. Med shot, World Health Organization officials
36. Wide shot, group photo
STORYLINE
The progress made in testing COVID-19 samples at Somalia’s primary reference laboratory was hailed as critical to the Somali response to the coronavirus pandemic by the United Nations envoy to the country – and with an important role to play in its future.

The UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative to Somalia, James Swan, visited Somalia’s National Public Health Reference Laboratory (NPHRL), which has a leading role in the diagnostic testing that forms part of the country’s response to the pandemic.

SOUNDBITE (English) James Swan, Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Somalia:
“We are very impressed with what you have been able to accomplish here and we are honoured to be your partners. We in the UN family have all learned how important testing is for determining both the health of individual patients and more broadly what’s happening with this Coronavirus pandemic. The work that you are doing on testing here is absolutely critical to the COVID response.”

After undergoing training by international experts, NPHRL staff are now testing COVID-19 samples on their own. The NPHRL started to test samples for COVID-19 in April and can now test up to 180 samples a day. The current testing capacity can further be upgraded to 360 samples a day whenever needed. From 7 April to 23 June, the NPHRL has tested 6,572 samples for COVID-19.

SOUNDBITE (English) James Swan, Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Somalia:
“And as there are future diseases, as there are future medical or pandemic requirements, you and your team at this laboratory will be able to respond. So we really see this as both a short-term response – together, Somalis and the UN, and other international partners – a short-term response on COVID, but a longer-term investment and commitment to the future of this laboratory and the work you are doing on behalf of the Somali people.”

The UN World Health Organization (WHO) donated a real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)-based testing machine to the NPHRL in order to immediately capacitate it for testing COVID-19 samples. The laboratory was also rapidly upgraded to an appropriate bio-safety level with the emergence of COVID-19 in Somalia.

SOUNDBITE (English) Dr. Mamunur Rahman Malik, Country Representative for Somalia, World Health Organisation (WHO):
“On 9th of April, this laboratory became functional for testing COVID-19 samples. Since that time, we have supported this laboratory to become operational and also to test as many samples as possible because laboratories always play an important role for not only detection but also play an important role for us to increase our understanding on the way the virus is circulating and how we can monitor the virus circulation in this country.”

During their visit, the officials from the world body also emphasized that the uses and benefits of the three laboratories goes beyond the current response and into the future.

SOUNDBITE (English) Dr. Mamunur Rahman Malik, Country Representative for Somalia, World Health Organisation (WHO):
“So, the investment we have made on this lab is an investment for the future. This laboratory will for years be able to detect any unknown and novel pathogens be it respiratory in origin, be it viral, be bacterial in origin. Moving forward, we will also make further investment on this lab so that this laboratory can be upgraded to biosafety level 3.”

The WHO representative also noted that, at full capacity, the NPHRL has the potential to become a reference facility for the East Africa region.

Other support provided to the national laboratory by WHO includes internal quality assurance protocol and training online to ensure that standard laboratory quality assurance measures are strictly followed. The UN health agency has also provided enough testing kits and other items for testing samples until September 2020, and has also provided various other supplies.

The NPHRL is the only reference laboratory for testing of COVID-19 samples collected from some of Somalia’s Federal Member States, notably Galmudug, Hirshabelle, South West State and Jubaland. WHO has also supported the establishment of two other real-time PCR-based laboratories in Garowe and Hargeisa, and is providing similar types of support in the form of laboratory equipment and consumable supplies.

SOUNDBITE (English) Dr. Sahra Isse Mohamed, Director, National Public Health Reference Laboratory (NPHRL):
“We are really grateful for the help by WHO. We have been able to do COVID-19 testing here in Mogadishu. Before this, we used to send COVID samples to Nairobi, KEMRI Lab, and now we have two PCRs here in Mogadishu, one PCR in Hargeisa and one PCR in Garowe. Thanks to WHO that it procured this equipment very fast, during the COVID pandemic.”

Testing of COVID-19 samples by real-time PCR machines is regarded by WHO as the ‘gold standard.’

In addition to WHO, the UN World Food Programme (WFP), UN Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS) and UN Development Programme (UNDP) have provided support for the NPHRL, as have other international partners
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