Somalia’s struggling healthcare system is pushing its citizens to travel abroad for medical treatment, with India being the top destination due to its accessibility and low cost of healthcare. It is estimated that 40,000 Somalis travel to India each year for medical care.
However, this journey is not without its challenges. The shift in visa issuance from the Indian embassy in Kenya to the Indian embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, has made the process even more difficult for Somalis. This move was planned to benefit the government’s supporters and members of current Federal Government led President Mahmoud, as well as some top diplomats at the Somali Embassy in Addis Ababa.
Unfortunately, this shift has also allowed corruption to flourish. Members of the current government and well-known personalities have formed a fictitious company through the Somali embassy in Addis Ababa, charging outrageous fees for assisting with Indian visas. This business generates an average of $700-900 USD per person, dividing the profits among four distinct groups.
1) Brothers Abdihakim Aynte and Abdirahman Aynte, who manage the company through proxies; and 2) State Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Omar (Ali Bal’ad) , 3) Ali Mohamed Hussein (Atom), who was recently recalled by the Somali Foreign Ministry and 4) Selected businessmen.
Sadly those Somalis seeking medical care India is made to endure degrading treatment, unnecessary travels, and exurban free, which they cannot afford. Somalia’s corruption permeates all levels of the government.
Despite the fact that Somali patients and their families spend an estimated $100 million a year in Indian hospitals, the Indian government has failed to offer the support and hospitality that they so desperately need. This has led to degradation and exploitation, with corrupt individuals taking advantage of the most vulnerable Somalis.
In December 2021, the Republic of Somaliland took steps to bypass this corruption of Somali embassies by signing a memorandum of understanding with Chennai-based Deepam Hospitals to assist its citizens traveling to India for medical treatment.
For instance, the Turkish Embassy has hired a private company to assist with the visa; however, this company operates under strict oversight and has zero tolerance for corruption. A small fee is given to the company for each visa they processed and assist with.
The wealthy Somali businesspeople have a unique opportunity to establish specialized institutions and recruit competent medical personnel, tapping into India’s multimillion-dollar medical sector. This will not only benefit the patients, but also bring an end to the abuses currently perpetuated by Somali leaders.