Thursday May 12, 2022
During his 3-day visit to Somalia, the World Health
Organization (WHO) Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Dr Ahmed
Al-Mandhari visited North Galkacyo in Puntland state of Somalia to oversee
WHO’s ongoing drought response activities, see the work of community health
workers in delivering integrated health and nutrition services to the people
displaced by the recent drought in Somalia and also visit one of the internally
displaced population’s camps to see the challenges faced by the communities in
meeting their health, nutrition, food and water and sanitation needs.
Laster on, he attended an event in Mogadishu where the WHO
emergency health response plan for drought was officially launched which was
also attended by HE Dr Fawziya Abikar Nur, the Minister of Health and Human
Services of Federal Government of Somalia, Mr Jocelyn Mason, the United Nations
Resident Coordinator for Somalia, ad interim and Mr Mugatte Guisse, the United
Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, ad interim.
The ongoing drought in Somalia and across the Horn of Africa
is known to be the region’s worst one in the last 4 decades. In Somalia alone,
an estimated 6.1 million people have been affected by the drought, of whom 759
400 have been displaced in search of water, food and pasture; 3.5 million lack
sufficient access to water; 6 million continue to face severe food shortages,
with approximately 1.4 million children facing acute malnutrition through 2022,
including 329 500 likely to become severely malnourished; So far, a total of
3675 suspected cases of cholera and 2720 cases of measles have been confirmed
since January 2022 from the drought-affected areas.
“Whenever natural disasters strike, diseases inevitably
follow, particularly in fragile contexts. At all levels, WHO is leaving no
stone unturned to support the people of Somalia to cope with the austere
effects of drought,” said Dr Al-Mandhari. “As one of the first responders on
the ground, WHO is working with the government, donors, and other UN agencies
and health cluster partners to reduce the spread of diseases and complications
related to malnutrition, while simultaneously rebuilding health systems to cope
with similar calamities in the future."
The WHO’s emergency health response plan for drought in
Somalia for 2022, urgently requires US $35 million over the next 10 months to
deliver emergency life-saving operations to reach over 2.5 million vulnerable
people in the worst-affected parts of the country.
Dr Al-Mandhari explained that the drought response plan, which
will serve as WHO’s blueprint for intensifying efforts to save more lives and
cushion Somalis from severe forms of disease and malnutrition, was based on
lessons learnt from past droughts in Somalia and would help to prevent
epidemics, save lives, protect communities’ health and nutrition needs, and
avert an additional health crisis. He also praised the Federal Government and
UN partners for their collaborative efforts, emphasizing that the true essence
of the Eastern Mediterranean Region’s Vision 2023 of “health for all by all”
was in solidarity with the ongoing drought response work.
“WHO is responding to Somali families’ most dire needs, and
is working to ensure every Somali household, including the most vulnerable, can
access emergency life-saving support especially during emergencies. The WHO
Emergency Health Response Plan for drought in Somalia calls for early action on
a no-regret basis. It is imperative that WHO has access to flexible, smart and
unearmarked funds to scale up our life-saving operations in the hard-to-reach
areas to protect health and well-being of the people impacted by the drought”
said Dr Mamunur Malik, WHO Representative to Somalia.