Somalia: Providing care amid prolonged conflict

© Espen Rasmussen Click for larger view A camel kick broke this little girl's leg. She waits for her crutches to be made at the pediatric ward of the MSF health center in Huddur. In February 2004, the team responded to tribal clashes near Boale by treating the wounded and referring the most severe cases to the Dinsor health center. MSF staff also have monitored and responded to epidemics, such as a measles outbreak that occurred in January 2004. MSF has recently expanded its work to four of the region's five districts, providing treatment for diseases such as tuberculosis and kala azar, and reaching out to nomadic populations. Since 1997, MSF has worked in Galkayo, in the Mudug region, home to an estimated 350,000 people. MSF supports pediatric and maternity services in two hospitals there, one of each side of the "green line" which divides the town between warring factions. In addition to supplying medicines and materials, training local staff and providing direct patient care, MSF is rehabilitating both hospitals. Between October and December 2003, MSF intervened three times during repeated clan conflicts in Galgudud, 200 kilometers south of Galkayo. MSF teams traveled to both sides of the conflict, treating more than 180 wounded people and replenishing stocks of emergency drugs and supplies. In Lower Juba Valley, in the Marere region, an area in which most people are members of the marginalized Bantu group, MSF focuses on maternal and child health. While working to improve vaccination coverage and reproductive health, the MSF team also treats people with communicable diseases. In late December 2003, a Somali MSF staff member was killed in the crossfire between attackers and guards during a robbery at the compound of a Somali aid organization. The rest of the team was evacuated. By January 2004, the remaining team members had returned and were caring for 48 children in a therapeutic feeding center. In the southwestern part of the country, MSF runs a 35-bed health center in Dinsor, a town in the western Bay region, near Baidoa. The MSF clinic is the only health facility for the 100,000 people who live in this region. In February 2004, the team responded to tribal clashes near Boale by treating the wounded and referring the most severe cases to the Dinsor health center. MSF staff also have monitored and responded to epidemics, such as a measles outbreak that occurred in January 2004. MSF is also working in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, running a primary health care clinic and responding to cholera outbreaks as necessary. At the clinic, MSF provides maternal and child health care, nutritional screening and monitoring of infectious-disease outbreaks. MSF also provides primary health care in 11 clinics in the southern regions of Banaadir and Shabeellaha. MSF has worked in Somalia since 1991. INTERNATIONAL STAFF: 45 NATIONAL STAFF: 384