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Saving the lives of babies in Somalia: Farhiya’s story

Saving the lives of babies in Somalia: Farhiya’s story

“Our situation felt almost hopeless – I knew I had to do everything I could to save my daughter.”

Four weeks ago, one and half year old Farhiya Abdi sat in her mother arms at an International Medical Corps facility. She was unable to move, unable to smile, unable even to cry.

Her mother, Duniyo Gacal had travelled more than 10 kilometres to bring Farhiya to International Medical Corps’ Intensive Stabilisation Centre in Galkacyo town, Somalia.

“I was hopeless, but I decided to give her the chance by seeking treatment,” Duniyo explains.

Farhiya is one of 364 children admitted in the last three months to the stabilisation centre in Galkacyo Hospital who received treatment for severe acute malnutrition. Thousands of children in Mudug region are at risk of or suffering from severe acute malnutrition as a result of deterioration in food security and economic livelihoods. Their plight is a tragic consequence of the nutrition crisis in the Mudug region, where drought, food insecurity, clan clashes and recurrent disease outbreaks have converged to create a severe humanitarian crisis.

It was during the daily community screenings conducted by International Medical Corps’ community health workers that Farhiya’s condition came to light. After a brief consultation, they found out that the little girl was suffering from diarrhoea, fever, a persisting cough and poor appetite. The community health workers immediately called for an ambulance and facilitated her referral to Galkacyo South Hospital.

When she was first admitted to the stabilisation centre, Farhiya weighed 4.2 kilograms – more than a full kilogram below the average for a healthy child her height. She looked wasted, her skin stretched over her tiny bones.


During the first four days, Farhiya received therapeutic milk to restore her metabolic functions. Two weeks later, the little girl was able to start eating therapeutic foods like Plumpy’Nut in addition to the therapeutic milk, to provide her with essential nutrients.

The results were promising. At the end of the week, Farhiya had gained 1kg. In the meantime, the girl’s mother was given careful instructions on how to continue her treatment of therapeutic food at home.


Duniyo recalls the relief she felt when her baby daughter was discharged from the stabilisation centre.

“I was overjoyed. I never thought my daughter would make it,” she says. “I already saw her dying. I was hopeless, but I decided to give her a chance by seeking treatment.

“I followed all the instructions the nurses and doctors gave, and her condition has improved significantly.”

Duniyo also appreciates the community mobilisers who initiated the journey to recovery by encouraging her to take Farhiya to the hospital and by facilitating the referral of her daughter.

With funding from ECHO and UNICEF, International Medical Corps is providing life-saving health and nutrition services at Galkacyo South Hospital, availing accessible and quality care to vulnerable populations in Galkacyo South, Somalia – saving thousands of children in Mudug, who – like Farhiya – are on the verge of succumbing to malnutrition.

Duniyo is happy and thanks International Medical Corps for saving her young daughter’s life.

“Without International Medical Corps’ helping hand, my daughter would not have survived this. International Medical Corps’ services are of great benefit to Galkacyo South people.

I hope many more families in our community can get help like I did.

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