The Washington Post looks at the conditions within Banadir Hospital in the Somali capital of Mogadishu. “The scenes … reflect the immense challenge facing this Horn of Africa nation, already besieged by multiple woes, from civil war to radical Islamist militants to a weak transitional government incapable of governing effectively, despite massive support from the United States and its allies,” the newspaper writes (Raghavan, 9/7).
Health In Emergency Situations/Humanitarian Assistance
U.N. Agencies, Pakistan Government Launch Rapid Needs Assessment, Provide Aid In Flood-Affected Regions
“United Nations humanitarian agencies have begun to assist communities in southern Pakistan that have been pummeled by monsoon rains which have claimed the lives of almost 200 people and destroyed or damaged nearly one million homes in an area still recovering from last year’s catastrophic floods,” the U.N. News Centre reports. The U.N. and the Pakistan government “have begun a rapid needs assessment in Sindh, with shelter, food, water, sanitation, hygiene and health care expected to be the priorities,” the news service writes (9/10).
A VOA News editorial says U.S. support to Haiti since the early days of an outbreak of cholera, which has affected more than 439,600 people since it was first detected almost a year ago, “remains unfailing.” The editorial continues, “To date, the U.S. government has spent more than $75 million on improved water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, … has established and operated treatment centers and trained Haitian health care workers in preventing, diagnosing and treating cholera,” among other treatment, prevention and monitoring initiatives. “While some humanitarian groups are gradually reducing their operations in Haiti, the U.S. remains focused on giving the Haitian government the aid and tools needed to prevent and treat this potentially deadly disease,” the editorial says, adding, “The medical and public health response has been effective in limiting deaths associated with the disease” (9/12).
Several news sources have published opinion pieces regarding the ongoing famine in Somalia and hunger situation in the Horn of Africa, some of which are summarized below:
Women Urged To Use Clinics For Birthing, Family Planning Counseling In Refugee Camps Along Somalia-Kenya Border
IRIN examines how community health workers and international aid organizations, such as Medecins Sans Frontieres and the International Rescue Committee, are working to provide safe and adequate health facilities in refugee camps on the Kenya-Somalia border where women can give birth.
With the retreat of the Islamist extremist group al-Shabab out of the Somali capital of Mogadishu, where famine is threatening the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, “the U.N.-backed peacekeeping force can and should be quickly expanded,” according to Somalia’s prime minister and the U.N. envoy to the nation, in order to “allow the force to move out from the capital to secure routes for aid,” a Washington Post editorial states.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday expressed concern over widespread flooding in Pakistan and “pledged the United Nations’ continued commitment to supporting the government in its efforts to respond to the humanitarian needs of the more than five million people in the affected areas,” the U.N. News Centre reports. In a statement, Ban said he is “particularly worried about the situation in the southern area of Sindh province where people are in urgent need of food, shelter, safe water and access to health services,” according to the news service.
The health care system in the refugee camps in Dadaab, Kenya, which were established “long ago,” are “currently challenged and stretched by the recent influx of refugees,” UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimihen writes in this BMJ Group Blogs entry, noting that efforts are underway “to strengthen the existing system with supplies [and] human resources at clinic and outreach levels” to increase access. UNFPA is working “to improve reproductive health care in Dadaab and in accessible parts of Somalia through the provision of related life-saving medical supplies and equipment, which will lead to a reduction in adult and child morbidity and death,” he writes.
Twenty aid agencies on Wednesday issued an open letter (.pdf) “urg[ing] the international community to change its approach to Somalia ‘and enhance diplomatic engagement with the parties to the conflict, to ensure the unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid,'” particularly before the rainy season brings the threat of disease, IRIN reports (9/21).
PRI’s “The World” recently spoke with Matt Ellingson, director of Program Development at Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief organization, who was part of a mission to North Korea this month during which five U.S.-based, non-governmental organizations were allowed to send observers to the country to monitor delivery of aid to areas affected by severe floods this past summer. The group “came away concerned about widespread malnutrition and starvation in North Korea” and “is now calling for an urgent humanitarian intervention,” “The World” reports. The radio show provides audio of the interview and a link to a “factfile” on the North Korea food crisis published in The Telegraph earlier this month (9/23).