Bay Region, Somalia: Medical response to instability

The Bay region of south-western Somalia was one of the epicentres of the famines of 1990 and 1991. The region has been particularly unstable since 1996. Invasion, shifting alliances and armed conflict among militia groups have led to widespread suffering for a people living without even the most basic health services.

Dinsor is in the middle of the Bay region, with an estimated population of 20,000. The small town is a marketplace for the region. Herds of camels are gathered in Dinsor before being marched off to be sold in Mogadishu.

It is also the site of the MSF health centre, providing Dinsor and its surroundings with free medical care. Some seven international and more than 100 national staff run the Dinsor health centre.

The target population of the health centres Outpatient Department (OPD) is approximately 28,000 people from Dinsor and the surrounding 20km. The OPD performs more than 4,000 consultations a month, a total of 52,713 in 2006.

The 65-bed inpatient department serves Dinsor districts approximately 100,000 people. In 2006, 2,459 patients were admitted. The health facilities also receive patients from Bardera, Buale and Baidoa areas.

In September 2004, MSF started treating tuberculosis in Dinsor. In the first half of 2007, 413 patients were enrolled in the programme.

MSFs Therapeutic Feeding Centre (TFC) in Dinsor usually admits 10 malnourished children a month. However, in January 2006, the number of admissions multiplied by almost 10, and a total of 1,429 severely malnourished children were eventually integrated in the feeding programme in 2006.

During that same period, MSF started scaling up activities in and around Dinsor in response to the drought. A nutritional survey was conducted in Qansah Dheere district, 80km north of Dinsor. MSF constructed a new TFC building in Dinsor town in the summer of 2006, opposite the health centre, with a 75 bed capacity, and started mobile nutritional activities in a selected number of locations around Dinsor. Unfortunately, these ambulatory activities had to be suspended towards the end of 2006 due to security reasons. In July 2007, this ambulatory programme still had not resumed.

Dinsor health centre

Project objective: To provide adequate primary and secondary level healthcare in Dinsor district and the Bay region, and to react to any unattended emergencies in the surrounding area.

Activities: Outpatient department: Treatment of respiratory tract infections, hypertension, diabetes, skin diseases, sexually transmitted diseases, urinary tract infections and some diarrhoea and malaria.

Inpatient department: Trauma, respiratory tract infections, life saving surgical activities including caesarean sections, tuberculosis treatment, Kala Azar and treatment of severely malnourished children.