Horn of Africa crisis health update
The rainy season has started in the Horn of Africa, where more than 13 million people continue to depend of humanitarian assistance due to the latest droughts and related food crisis. Although the rains will have long-term positive effects on food production, the rains also bring increased risk of mosquito- and waterborne ilnesses.
The increasingly volatile situation is desestabilizing the entire region but WHO and its partners are finding ways to deliver emergency health care. Following the kidnapping 13 October 2011 of two Spanish staff of Médécins Sans Frontières Spain from the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya all international and national health staff were evacuated. This caused a huge disruption in health services as the only staff who are now able to provide health services are Somali refugees who live in the camps. Kenya is increasing its security forces in Dadaab, which will hopefully encourage NGOs to increase their presence. In Somalia WHO and its partners continue to negotiate with al-Shabaab on access to allow them to carry out mesasles vaccinantion campaigns and other life-saivng activities.
WHO has established an inter-regional support team in Nairobi to support the five WHO countries involved in the crisis. The team works with individual country offices and health partners to identify available financing, gaps in malaria control and issues of cross-border significance, including outbreaks of measles, acute watery diarrhoea, cholera, malaria and dengue fever. While UNICEF and WFP improve access to food and nutrition suplements, WHO provides standard protocols and expertise to government health systems to manage the medical complications that arise from severe acute malnutrition.