Somalia, a country experiencing one of the worst droughts in its history, has received a helping hand from the government of Japan and the World Health Organisation (WHO). They have launched a drought emergency response project aimed at providing essential and emergency healthcare to over 2.7 million people in 29 drought-affected districts.
The project, called “Expanding access to essential and emergency health care for the drought-affected communities living in hard-to-reach areas in Somalia,” will also build resilience in the primary healthcare system of the country towards achieving universal health coverage.
Ken Okaniwa, ambassador of Japan to Somalia, hosted the launch ceremony in the presence of WHO representative to Somalia, Dr Mamunur Rahman Malik.
The funding from Japan will enable WHO and federal and state-level ministries of health to reach the most vulnerable populations, including internally displaced persons and those severely impacted by drought.
Over a one-year period, the project will expand community-based and integrated health and nutrition interventions, strengthen disease surveillance, improve service delivery at the district level, and establish referral linkages between communities and primary healthcare facilities.
WHO will deploy over 2 100 community health workers and establish 148 mobile outreach teams to increase access to life-saving services at the community level. They will also establish and support 64 stabilisation centres at health facilities to treat children with severe acute malnutrition with medical complications, nine cholera treatment centres, and 280 primary health care centres in drought-affected districts. These interventions will provide critical health services to millions of people in need, including those in remote and hard-to-reach areas.
In his welcome address, Malik stated that “thanks to this very timely and much-needed support from Japan, WHO will be able to sustain its critical and life-saving health interventions in the affected areas.”
The project will contribute to reducing preventable mortality and morbidity and advance universal health coverage through enhanced service delivery. The support from Japan will be instrumental in helping to improve the lives and well-being of Somalis. WHO Somalia expressed its appreciation to Japan for this critical contribution.
The project’s launch is a significant development in Somalia’s agriculture sector, as it is hoped that the interventions will help to reduce preventable morbidity and mortality among vulnerable communities.