Friday, February 18, 2022

UNICEF is seeking USD7 million to combat severe malnutrition in Somalia

 MOGADISHU: The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has requested USD7 million by the end of March to help 1.4 million Somali children who are at risk of acute malnutrition.

According to sources, UNICEF announced on Tuesday that the funds will be used to purchase 104,000 cartons of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF) to treat children with severe acute malnutrition and prevent deaths.

"The numbers we're witnessing this year are pretty significant, and hundreds of children are at risk of dying unless urgent actions are taken," UNICEF Representative Angela Kearney said in a statement made in Mogadishu, Somalia's capital. According to Kearney, a probable breach in the supply pipeline might result in a severe shortage of RUTF starting in June, putting the lives of over 1,00,000 infants in jeopardy.

According to UNICEF, more than 1.4 million children in Somalia, or over half of the country's under-five population, are at risk of acute malnutrition as a result of the prolonged drought, which has left 4.1 million people on the verge of starvation. According to the most recent Somalia Food Security and Nutrition Assessment, almost a quarter of the 1.4 million children, or 3,29,500 children, will be severely malnourished this year.


Somali doctors open war-scarred nation's only public blood bank

 MOGADISHU, Feb 16 (Reuters) - When Somalia's biggest bomb blast killed more than 500 people in 2017, Dr. Ahmed Abdikadir Mohamed watched helplessly as many of the injured bleeding to death.

Mohamed Abdi Hussein donates blood next to Rage Moalin Ali, who waits to donate blood, and nurse Fatima Hassan, at the Benadir

Exactly one year later, in October 2018, Mohamed opened Benadir Blood Service, Somalia's first public blood bank since 1991.

The bank, run by a team of 20 volunteer doctors, nurses, and lab technicians, delivers life-saving donations to most Mogadishu hospitals.

We are happy to work at this blood bank...the country has no other blood bank and there is a dire need, said 32-year-old Mohamed. While private hospitals have their own small banks, Benadir is the only public one.

"Those who die due to lack of blood are more than those who are killed by bullets," he estimates.

Lack of access to safe blood is a major cause of maternal death. Each year, 5,000 Somali women die from childbirth complications, according to 2017 data from the United Nations Children's Fund, the latest year for which data was available. That same year, there were 740 terror-related deaths, according to the Global Terrorism Index.

In addition to pregnant women and victims of violence, recipients of donated blood include people with chronic diseases.

I have had kidney problems for a long time... my kidneys undergo dialysis. This place helps me... they give me free blood. Thank God, Moalim Rage Ali Irole told Reuters.

One challenge is convincing people to donate. Some of the stigma around donation decreased in the wake of the Oct. 2017 bombings when the government called on citizens to donate, but misconceptions remain, said Mohamed.

One man who brought his sick mother told Mohamed that he would die if he donated blood.

"This is something strange within the community; they think one will die if one donates," said Mohamed. But the team explained its safety and eventually convinced him to donate.

But for 20-year-old Mohamed Haji Hussein, donating has become a source of pride.

I donate my blood for the Somalis... I understand there is a lack of blood: that is why I donate it. To save people, he told Reuters.

Mohamed said other challenges include equipment shortages and scraping together the $700 monthly operating fees.

The bank stores about 100 units of blood. One unit can save up to three lives, according to WHO.

Reporting by Abdi Sheikh, Writing by Ayenat Mersie, Editing by William Maclean