Somalia: Expanding our work and responding to emergencies
Opening new projects in Somalia is always challenging, it can often require months of negotiations between all the different parties in an area. In the first three months
of 2007, MSF was able to open two new projects in the Hiraan and Lower Juba regions of Somalia.
In Belet Weyne, Hiraan Region, situated in the central part of Somalia and neighbouring Ethiopia, MSF started a hospital programme with a focus on surgical care. Around eight international staff and 85 Somali staff screened over 1,300 patients and carried out 95 major surgical interventions in the first two months of operations.
MSF expects to further increase its activities during the course of 2007. A paediatric ward has already been set up and maternity care is being provided.
In Jamaame, Lower Juba Region, MSF opened a small 25-bed hospital with a large nutritional component and outreach activities in early March 2007. Since its opening, 780 children have received treatment in the feeding programme.
A team of three national and two international staff conduct mobile clinics in the area, screening children and pregnant women and providing ambulatory medical care. In the hospital, MSF also carries out 800 outpatient consultations and admits 80 patients in its inpatient department (IPD) every month. Between April and mid June 2007, 224 cases of cholera were admitted.
The main morbidities are malnutrition, respiratory tract infections and diarrhoea. The teams also provide medical care for a number of gunshot wound victims, accident victims and women with complicated deliveries every week.
About 30,000 internally displaced Somalis en refugees have gathered in the coastal town of Bossaso (Puntland), from where most are hoping to cross the Gulf of Aden to Yemen. The health situation and living conditions in the 19 camps around town are deplorable, and the arrival of new displaced in the past months has even more deteriorated their situation, especially in terms of food. An exploratory mission by MSF in July 2007 showed a high level of malnutrition in the camps (12% severe acute malnutrition, 32% global malnutrition among children) and no adapted health care available.
MSF therefore decided to start working in Bossaso in August 2007, targeting children under five years old and pregnant/lactating women (a target group of approximately 15,000 people). The main goal is to prevent and reduce morbidity and mortality as a result of acute malnutrition and to continue to monitor the living conditions and health situation of this &#“invisible population.
When the worst violence in 16 years hit Mogadishu in March and April 2007, forcing thousands of people to flee the capital, MSF witnessed the arrival of displaced people in all its projects around the country. As many thousands of people stayed on the periphery of Mogadishu with no healthcare and little shelter or drinking water, MSF set up an emergency response in Afgooye and Balad, providing medical care, water and basic necessities and vaccinating children against measles. MSF also set up
cholera treatment centres around the country both in rural and urban areas. In Gal Hareeri, over 500 cholera patients received treatment.
In Mogadishu MSF teams treated over 1,300 patients, more than double the number treated in previous cholera epidemics. Many of MSF’s other projects opened cholera/acute watery diarrhoea treatment centres.