Tens of thousands of Somali women and children benefit from UN health initiative

12 November 2009

At least 83,000 Somali children and women benefited from the Child Health Days Campaign carried out with United Nations support in the Afgooye corridor, which hosts displaced people who fled their homes owing to the violence in the capital, Mogadishu.

The 30-kilometre stretch of road west of Mogadishu is the world’s most densely populated settlement for internally displaced persons (IDPs), who live in harsh conditions and lack even the most basic social services, according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The five-day campaign, carried out with the support of UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs), reached at least 46,000 children under-five and 37,000 women of child-bearing age with critical health services, including vaccinations, vitamin supplements and hygiene education.

“Our joint success in implementing this large-scale outreach in the Afgooye area is a testament to how we can make a difference in Somalia even in the most difficult of circumstances,” said Rozanne Chorlton, UNICEF Representative in Somalia.

“Afgooye corridor is one of the locations in Somalia where humanitarian access is very challenging, but it is also where the impact of such an intervention is extremely critical due to the high density of population,” she added.

The large-scale campaign was made possible, despite poor infrastructure and lack of appropriate health facilities, thanks to the efforts of more than 200 vaccinators and 300 health workers.

The Child Health Days were launched in Somalia in December 2008 reaching over one million children under five and 800,000 women across the country during the first round. It is repeated every six months to help promote child survival and boost immunization rates, in addition to promoting demand for public health services among communities.

Fighting since early May between Government forces and Al Shabaab and Hisb-ul-Islam has displaced around 160,000 IDPs in the strife-torn country, where around 3.7 million people – or about half the population – are dependent on humanitarian aid due to the combined effects of conflict, drought, high food prices and the collapse of the local currency.

 

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