Teamwork at all levels of WHO aims to save millions of lives in the Greater Horn of Africa – Somalia

August 28, 2022 – In the Greater Horn of Africa, famine threatens many homes. More than 80 million people in this region – which includes Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda – do not have access to food that would meet their basic needs. as well as drinking water. More than 37 million of these people reached a crossroads in their lives where they had to sell their assets to feed themselves and their families.
In this disastrous situation, the risk of morbidity and mortality due to epidemic-prone diseases is accompanied by forced displacement. This comes against a backdrop of limited access to essential and primary health care interventions across the region. Every day, the most vulnerable populations, including children, pregnant and breastfeeding women and displaced people, face increasing threats of infection from communicable diseases.

Outbreaks in the region

The drought has exacerbated epidemics in the Horn of Africa, a region that is constantly facing other emergencies, including the current COVID-19 pandemic. Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda are experiencing outbreaks of measles, while Kenya, Somalia and South Sudan are experiencing outbreaks of cholera.

Countries also have high rates of severe acute malnutrition among children under 5, which increases the risk of morbidity and mortality among displaced and vulnerable populations. Unless a coordinated response effort is implemented, health risks will continue to escalate and spread within and beyond the region.

Develop plans for closer collaboration

To continue to deter these severe health consequences of drought in a coordinated manner across the Greater Horn of Africa, the World Health Organization (WHO) has convened a meeting from 26-27 June 2022 in Nairobi, Kenya, to senior specialists and managers of the organization. . These experts included Dr Ibrahima Socé Fall, WHO Assistant Director General for Emergency Response, WHO representatives from the 7 countries in the region and other technical experts.

The participants set out to reflect on ways to put in place a stronger and more coherent health response. They considered joint measures to improve primary health care interventions, including in the delivery of essential health services, nutritional support and immunization, communication and resource mobilization, and regional, inter-agency and regional coordination. partners. They also discussed the alignment of response plans and intelligence and health information products and systems. After finalizing the Emergency Reserve Fund, an emergency fund managed by WHO, country teams also agreed on a series of next steps to take forward the recommended actions. Coordinate information management in the Region

As next steps, the information management teams from the 7 countries and representatives from the WHO Regional Office for Africa, the Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean and headquarters have convened a meeting in Kenya from 25 to 27 July 2022. The team aimed to understand and document the information and data landscape in the region. They also discussed ways to improve coordination using 4 health information management pathways – products, processes, people and tools – and the need for monitoring and evaluation, including on indicators related to nutrition, which is closely linked to health, and to primary health care. .

Following an analysis of all the different information collection tools and individual siled and donor-driven disease management systems in the 7 countries, participants agreed on the need to integrate information management assets across health in countries into a single coherent integrated system.

In conclusion, the team agreed to create a joint situation report each month, which combines an epidemiological bulletin, known as the PPE watch, and a visually appealing infographic on the drought situation. They also agreed to create an overall dashboard that shows drought response activities for each of the 7 countries. It will present information on activities to fight malaria, cholera, community health worker interventions, outreach interventions and severe acute malnutrition stabilization centers in drought-affected areas.

Regional and national support calls

To scale up the response to the situation in the Greater Horn of Africa, on August 2, 2022, WHO launched an appeal for $123.7 million. The response will focus on 5 pillars: coordination and collaboration; monitoring and information; prevention and control of epidemics; essential nutritional actions; and essential health services.

In Somalia, WHO launched an emergency health response plan for the ongoing drought in May 2022. With a request for US$35 million until the end of 2022, the plan aims to strengthen surveillance diseases, horizontally integrating nutrition programs into health service delivery and ensuring adequate coverage levels for measles and polio vaccination, including vitamin A and deworming. In addition, the plan will ensure the delivery of an essential package of health services with nutritional and mental health and psychosocial support integrated into activities. To meet the needs of young children and women, the response will also focus on the integrated management of childhood illnesses and reproductive health.

“Since the beginning of last year, in Somalia, our urgent attention has been focused on anticipating and preventing the severe health consequences of drought. We have advocated for rapid action for the drought response in order to ‘avoid regrets, and for flexible and urgent funding to support our efforts.Since then, we have spared no effort to prevent preventable morbidity and mortality from epidemic-prone diseases, caused by limited access to drinking water, food, proper sanitation and hygiene. In many ways we have managed to avert large scale loss of life, but even one life lost is too much,” said Dr. Mamunur Rahman Malik, WHO Representative in Somalia.

Partnerships at WHO level and with donors that save lives

Commenting on the extraordinary efforts being made to improve partnerships within WHO, Dr Malik, WHO Chief of Mission in Somalia, said: “Across the Horn of Africa, WHO is scaling up its response, improves coordination, streamlines existing efforts and optimizes resources to ensure we reach more people with lifesaving support. With one million Somalis displaced, we have a million and more reasons to redouble our efforts and provide additional support to affected families.

He added that support from partners such as the European Union (EU) Delegation to Somalia, European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations Somalia, donors contributing to the Emergency Reserve Fund and Gavi – the Vaccine Alliance, WHO has already been able to impact the lives of some of the hardest hit people.

For more information on WHO’s appeals for the Greater Horn of Africa and Somalia to respond to the current drought:

WHO steps up response to looming health crisis in Greater Horn of Africa as food insecurity worsens

WHO EMRO | Regional Director Officially Launches Somalia Drought Emergency Health Response Plan | News | Somalia website

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