Somali children increasingly victims of fighting in capital UN reports

12 October 2010The children of Mogadishu are suffering from the recent increased violence in the Somali capital, accounting for one-fifth of the 5,000 people injured so far this year, the United Nations health agency reported today, calling for an urgent upgrade of health facilities. “Service delivery is hampered by a very weak public health system, infrastructure and an insufficient number of health facilities and lack of skilled health workers,” UN World Health Organization (WHO) country representative Marthe Everard said, noting that Somalia only has some 250 qualified doctors, 860 nurses and just 116 midwives.The high number of young casualties, coupled with a limited number of skilled surgeons and continuing demands for routine surgical care, requires an urgent upgrade of health facilities in the city, WHO reported.The agency is supporting two hospitals and seven health facilities in Mogadishu to re-equip their operating theatres, provide essential medicines and supplies, train staff and install the computer and information technology needed to manage operations, and $1.94 million in funding is needed to ensure these facilities can continue to provide life-saving services.Twenty years of civil war, without any functioning central government, have devastated the Horn of Africa country, hampering health services and increasing health risks. Since January, at least 5,000 people have been wounded, 20 per cent of them children, and 100 more killed in Mogadishu alone, according to reports from three hospitals. But WHO estimates that over500 people have been killed in that time, although deaths on site are not reported.Somali health facilities routinely lack basic and essential medicines, medical supplies and equipment. Another overall threat is diarrhoeal disease as Somalia suffers from seasonal cholera outbreaks. WHO will be working with health partners to undertake preparedness activities for the expected outbreak period this month, especially for acute watery diarrhoea. In March, outbreaks were confirmed in Mogadishu, with 3,001 cases and 79 deaths reported, and the Lower Shabelle region’s Merka district, with 725 cases, eight of them fatal. Of the total victims, 2,965 were children under five, 73 of whom died.

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