Humanitarian scaling up in times of drought: WHO support to stabilization centers saves lives – Somalia
May 30, 2022 – Fatima Ahmed Ali and her one-year-old son Abdullahi are just two of many Somalis whose lives have been changed due to the ongoing drought in Somalia. This drought would be one of the worst in recent history. Yet they are among the lucky ones to have received timely medical care.
Living as a herder in a rural area of Gardo, Puntland, Fatima says they are used to seeing droughts come and go, but this one was severe. Neighbors try to help each other as families lose all their livestock, while children everywhere suffer from illnesses, many of which are preventable. Many families don’t have the money to support their loved ones, and some don’t know where to go if they have nutrition-related health issues, she says.
Stabilization centers treat complications
In April 2022, when Abdullahi fell seriously ill, a family member took Fatima and her son to a nearby health center in Yako. From there, a health worker directed them to the Gardo Stabilization Center for specialized attention.
In stabilization centers like the one visited by Fatima, trained health workers assess the condition of patients, especially those suffering from severe acute malnutrition with medical complications. They stabilize the condition of these children suffering from severe acute malnutrition with appropriate nutrition, micronutrient supplementation, correction of the state of dehydration and appropriate treatment and care for medical complications. WHO is supporting 53 such stabilization centers across the country to treat children with severe acute malnutrition with medical complications. WHO support includes training health workers on the clinical management of patients and organizing stabilization centres, providing appropriate medical supplies, such as severe acute malnutrition kits, and guaranteeing and monitoring the quality of care. In 2021, a total of 14,430 children under the age of 5 were cared for in these stabilization centers, with a recovery rate of 95%.
“Abdullahi was not eating at all before we arrived. He had a fever and couldn’t even sleep. I felt really helpless,” Fatima said. “I am grateful for the support he received at the stabilization centre. After taking medicine, Abdullahi was able to rest and eat again.
Fatima hopes to see conditions improve in Somalia, where every year communities face natural disasters. WHO support for these stabilization centers is saving the lives of thousands of malnourished children who have had medical complications in Somalia, like Fatima’s son.
WHO provides essential support to save lives
The current food insecurity situation in Somalia due to drought continues to worsen. Four consecutive failed rainy seasons and growing economic pressures are worsening the severity of the needs and driving the country to the brink of famine. An estimated 49% of the population – 7.7 million people – are in need of some form of humanitarian assistance or protection, of which 6.13 million are believed to be affected by drought.
Of these 6.1 million people across the country who are food insecure, including nearly 1.7 million who suffer from extreme levels of hunger, an estimated 1.4 million children under the age of 5 years and more than 250,000 pregnant and breastfeeding women will need treatment and care for malnutrition.
WHO’s current drought response operations, including its critical life-saving support, are funded by the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), the European Union and the Emergency Relief Reserve Fund. Emergencies (CFE) of the WHO.
At the household level, due to the ongoing drought in Somalia, WHO is supporting community health workers to visit families to determine who needs urgent help. In drought-affected areas, they measure the circumference of children’s arms to assess their level of malnutrition and whether they need to go to stabilization centers for medical care.
“Currently, 1.4 million Somali children suffer from acute malnutrition. The support we provide has reduced the number of deaths caused by medical complications related to severe acute malnutrition. We have also stepped up our life-saving support while responding to this drought, such as expanding access to essential health and nutrition services at community and primary health center levels, as well as keeping a watchful eye on diseases that evolve into epidemics. proportions and containing them at the source. However, the WHO has a funding shortfall of almost $39 million by the end of the year to sustain, maintain and scale up our lifesaving operations. Closing this gap will mean that we will be able to avoid excess deaths in a fragile environment that is suffering from one of the worst humanitarian crises in its lifetime,” said Dr Mamunur Rahman Malik, WHO Representative in Somalia and Head of Mission.