Mogadishu: Medical aid in a bullet-scarred capital

The Somali capital is fragmented into dozens of areas controlled by different groups, with regular outbreaks of fighting. The civilian population lives in constant fear and violence is committed with impunity. The entire public infrastructure – water and sanitation, health structures, schools – has been destroyed.

Although some private medical services are available, they are either very expensive or of poor quality. Access to healthcare is extremely difficult for the already impoverished population, including hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people.

During the first half of 2006, the city suffered large-scale fighting between the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) and a coalition of warlords, resulting in many civilians being wounded and killed. The brief control of the capital by the UIC brought some security &#– MSF was able to launch a large measles vaccination campaign throughout the city in August 2006, after months of delays.

The MSF primary healthcare clinic in Yaqshid, opened in 1994, is one the few public health facilities in northern Mogadishu. It receives many patients from the neighbouring districts and as a result, it has more consultations than a single facility can reasonably absorb. Until very recently, the clinic was run entirely by Somali staff with support offered by a coordination team based in Nairobi.

The MSF clinic provided 109,931 outpatient and 7,125 pregnancy care consultations in 2006.

At the end of May 2007 MSF, working with the Somalia Medical Association, opened a cholera treatment centre and an outpatient clinic for children under five in Halwaadag district, Mogadishu, and treats an average of 80 patients per day.