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Alberta man behind ‘nationally distributed’ marketing campaign to assist individuals in Somalia perceive COVID-19

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Earlier than Canadian Khalid Hashi and his group started their work in Somalia, the nation of about 15 million individuals who principally converse Somali and Arabic solely had details about COVID-19 in a single language.

“It was all in English,” says the Somali-Canadian, who was born in Ontario and raised in Edmonton.

The 30-year-old says he travelled to the Horn of Africa final spring to assist kick-start a digital info marketing campaign that might deal with considerations, misinformation and rumours concerning the novel coronavirus in a approach communities and villages may perceive.

“Initially, individuals had been very hesitant to hear,” says Hashi, who has since returned to his house in Edmonton.

“There’s misinformation throughout each neighborhood. It was difficult and it nonetheless is difficult. However now there’s extra info each day on the virus, and individuals are beginning to perceive the seriousness of the virus.”

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Hashi says with the approval of Somalia’s well being ministry, he expanded an app he had created three years earlier to incorporate movies and details about COVID-19 within the native languages. Entrance-line employees in Somalia went door-knocking to 45 villages and proceed to indicate the movies on tablets.

“This content material, (that’s) actually serving to with prevention and danger mitigation, has scaled throughout 4 areas, has reached 60,000 (nomads) and there’s about 100,000 impressions on social media,” he says.

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His group has since integrated options on the app that ship communities emergency well being alerts concerning the pandemic.

Somalia has simply over 5,000 confirmed instances of COVID-19 and greater than 1,000 which might be energetic. About 144 individuals have died of the an infection, mentioned Abdihamid Warsame, a analysis fellow on the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Proper now he’s based mostly in Somalia engaged on a analysis venture on COVID-19.

“There’s numerous misinformation concerning the illness, that it doesn’t actually exist in Somalia, and it’s a illness of foreigners. Folks don’t actually take the precautions that they need to. And I feel Khalid’s work is doing quite a bit to try to overcome this problem,” Warsame mentioned.

“There have been fewer and fewer instances as time has passed by. Khalid’s experience and his materials and his distribution channels are undoubtedly serving to to contribute towards the COVID-19 response in Somalia.”

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Hashi says Somalia’s well being ministry opinions the app’s content material and makes positive it resonates with communities.

“We’re not speaking a few village. We’re speaking nationwide distribution of this content material.”


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Public well being movies educate locals on signs they need to be on the lookout for and on the place individuals can get examined.

“It actually helps information individuals for subsequent steps on find out how to keep secure.

“We did our first video for a hospital that we had been working with to assist assist our medical doctors. Medical doctors would present the video to their sufferers … individuals noticed worth (in that) and now that content material goes to rural communities.”

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Hashi says a few of the movies he and his group have created in Arabic are being utilized in Yemen.

The concept for Hashi’s unique app got here to him in 2017 when he was visiting his grandmother. He was taking her to a health care provider appointment when he realized Somalia didn’t have a great way to trace medical data.

He ended up designing OGOW Digital Medical Information to retailer sufferers’ well being particulars.

“OGOW means ‘to know’ within the Somali language,” Hashi says. “I named it that as a result of it’s me attending to know my grandmother. It’s a continuing reminder of why I obtained into this work.”



© 2021 The Canadian Press

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