Treating Malnutrition in Somalia
The ongoing drought in the Horn of Africa has devastated livestock-owning communities. Without water, cattle is wiped out, leaving thousands of families without food. Several countries are now on famine alert, with Somalia particularly badly affected.
These challenges, along with many years of internal conflict has rendered hundreds of thousands of people displaced, and half of the country’s population is now dependent on humanitarian assistance.
With funding from the European Union, International Medical Corps supports Galkayo Public Hospital, in Somalia. The facility is located in the south of Somalia’s Galkayo-Galmudug region and provides life-saving health and nutrition services to populations with little or no access to healthcare.
When a food crisis hits, everyone is at risk, but children are particularly exposed to malnutrition. Last year, the UN estimated that about 1.4m children in Somalia would be malnourished, a 50% increase compared to the year before. For approximately 275 000 of these children, the condition is life-threatening.
Severe acute malnutrition is defined by a very low weight for height, severe wasting, or by the presence of abnormal tissue fluid caused by lack of protein. If we reduce malnutrition, child mortality will decrease and maternal health improve. Today, malnutrition accounts for 35% of deaths among children under five.
Four-year-old Ali is one of many patients who received treatment at the hospital. He arrived in April of last year together with his mother. The family is from Badaal, a village located some 120km away from the hospital.
When our medical team examined Ali, it quickly became clear that he suffered from severe acute malnutrition and he was immediately admitted to a special unit. Our team provided Ali necessary malnutrition treatment and antibiotics. To everyone’s relief, he soon started showing signs of recovering. Importantly, he regained his appetite, began eating and his weight improved.
Our team spoke to Ali’s mother who thanked god her child was recovering well.