Somalia: WHO and partners responding to the immediate needs of the population

by World Health Organisation | World Health Organisation
Tuesday, 21 December 2010 11:31 GMT

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Up to 2 million people in Somalia, 1.46 million of whom are displaced, are in need of humanitarian assistance. South Central Somalia is the area most affected by conflict and the resultant displacements of population, disruptions of services and restrictions on movement. Combined with the absence of safe drinking water and sanitation and the low level of immunization coverage, these factors represent major threats to health. The more than 200 sentinel sites across the country ensuring disease surveillance and early response to outbreaks have shown a rise in vector-borne diseases (malaria), and vaccine-preventable diseases (measles). Added to this, acute watery diarrhoea is endemic is most parts of the country. There is thus a high burden of preventable death and disability among the vulnerable population. The availability of health services is severely limited, relying almost exclusively on NGOs for delivery. Service delivery is hampered by the weak public health system and the lack of infrastructure (including supplies, equipment and amenities), health facilities and skilled health workers. The frail emergency health system is overburdened by the ongoing fighting: in Mogadishu alone, at least 7000 people have been wounded in 2010 (a quarter of them children), and WHO estimates that more than 500 have been killed. The Health Cluster received approximately half the funds requested in the 2010 Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP) for Somalia. Of the funds received, 70% were channelled directly to the NGOs implementing outreach activities in the field. The polio network is among the most valuable pillars of WHO’s presence in Somalia. Although access is overwhelmingly difficult and often unpredictable, the network provides contact with the population and allows outreach activities. In 2010, Health Cluster partners’ life-saving interventions included the provision of emergency surgical care and the distribution of almost 40 metric tons of supplies. More than 1100 health workers were trained in emergency and emergency obstetric care, as well as in outbreak response. WHO’s strong presence in Somalia has allowed the Organization to continually assess the situation of hospital infrastructure, supporting service delivery through the provision of essential medicines and targeted rehabilitation. WHO has also focused on the early detection and timely response to outbreaks and emergency preparedness, coordination and information sharing. The 2011 CAP for Somalia launched on 1 December appeals for US$ 58.6 million to fund 45 projects from all health cluster partners. Most projects focus on emergency care, including maternal and reproductive health, outbreak control and response, and coordination. WHO will continue working with Health Cluster partners to extend essential health services to IDPs and other vulnerable communities. The Organization also requires US$ 15.6 million to fund 7 projects. Activities will continue to focus on: Strengthening health cluster coordination and emergency preparedness Improving and sustaining access to quality primary and secondary health care services for vulnerable people Outbreak preparedness and response Predictable and timely funding from the beginning is essential to ensure solid and valid activities.