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Somali health sector in fragile state – NGOs

Storyline:National News

ngoThe health sector in Somalia is currently in a fragile state and needs attention by donors, development partners and humanitarian actors, according to a paper published on Monday and endorsed by 26 aid agencies from the Somalia NGO Consortium.

The under-five and maternal mortality rates in Somalia are amongst the highest in the world; one out of every seven Somali children dies before celebrating their fifth birthday (137 deaths/1,000 live births) with a higher number in southern and central Somalia.

The WHO estimates 3.2 million people in need of urgent access to minimum health services in Somalia.

Every three hours a Somali mother dies due to pregnancy complications; and every hour, eight Somali children below the age of 5 die, said a statement issued in Nairobi.

According to the report, as of January 2016, approximately ten hospitals have either been closed or have majorly curtailed their services across the country, and basic health posts and clinics are currently struggling to meet primary health needs.

Funding to the sector has significantly reduced resulting in minimized services and coverage to areas of need.

Inconsistent funding and varying interests in supporting the health sector in Somalia has brought it almost to a definitive halt irrespective of there being an immense need in the sector, the report pointed out.

“While it is important that donors continue to support current mechanisms in place, it is equally important to expand these mechanisms, both geographically, in all those dozens of districts not supported yet, but also technically, to provide the communities with the minimum package of life saving services, from primary to secondary heath care,” said AbukarGa’al, Deputy Country Director for Programs at the International Rescue Committee.

NGOs are forced to make difficult decisions in their operations which include withdrawing health workers from high-need areas due to lack of funding, and/or compromising on quality of healthcare to enhance access.