As health needs rise in Somalia, funding hits new low, cutting off 1.5 million from care – UN

World Health Organization (WHO) official, Dr. Ahmed El Ganainy, checks the eyes of a little girl during a joint humanitarian assessment mission to Marka, Somalia, on 9 July 2014. UN Photo/David Mutua

World Health Organization (WHO) official, Dr. Ahmed El Ganainy, checks the eyes of a little girl during a joint humanitarian assessment mission to Marka, Somalia, on 9 July 2014. UN Photo/David Mutua

Somalia, 24 July 2015 – Somalia – a country where every two hours a mother dies due to pregnancy complications – is facing cuts in life-saving health services because of the lowest funding levels in seven years, according to the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO).

“We cannot afford to let the country slide back into a humanitarian crisis,” WHO Representative for Somalia Dr. Ghulam Popal said. “Otherwise, we would undermine all gains made until today.”

UN health partners in Somalia are expressing concern that they will face difficulties in continuing to provide life-saving health services at the scale required as a result of declining humanitarian funding for 2015 and the forecast for 2016, WHO warned in a press release issued Thursday.

The lack of funding for UN’s humanitarian response plan in 2015 has left more than 1.5 million people cut off from primary or secondary health care services, according to the press release. As of July 2015, out of a required $71.5 million, only $6.1 million (8.5 per cent) has been received, the lowest since 2008, despite ongoing early warnings and appeals for adequate funding.

According to WHO, there are currently 3.2 million people in need of humanitarian aid in Somalia, where every 2 hours a mother dies due to pregnancy complications, every hour, 8 Somali children below the age of 5 die; one in 4 children suffers from chronic malnourishment; and only 1 in 3 Somalis have access to safe water.

“Over the past 3 months, at least 10 hospitals in Somalia have either been closed or have majorly curtailed their services across the country, and at least 3 other hospitals are at risk of closure in the near future,” the agency said. “Basic health posts and clinics are currently struggling to meet primary health needs, and many aid agencies have withdrawn health workers from high-need areas.”