Humanitarian Health Action

Building up health response in the Horn of Africa


Newly arrived refugees from Somalia at Dagehaley camp, one of three camps that make up the Dadaab refugee camp in north eastern Kenya
Kate Holt/IRIN

Currently, 2.4 million people receive food aid across Kenya. Malnutrition affects more than 350 000 children, of which 65 000 severely. Global acute malnutrition is estimated at 25% in affected areas, reaching 37.7% in Turkana, the north-western most district of Kenya.

Since January, an estimated 10 000 to 11 000 Somalis arrive in the Dadaab refugee camps each month, causing severe overcrowding.

Exhaustion and poor health, combined with low vaccination coverage and high prevalence of malnutrition, raise the risk for outbreaks of measles, cholera and other diarrhoeal diseases. Sexual violence against women is reportedly increasing and the provision of basic health services and emergency obstetric care is insufficient.

Disease surveillance and outbreak preparedness are inadequate in affected areas. As of 12 July, 462 measles cases and 11 related deaths had been reported. The most affected areas are the north, north- east and the coast. Population movements further increase the risk of spread of polio, cholera and measles.

During 25–29 July, UNICEF, WHO and the Kenyan Ministry of Health will vaccinate an estimated 215 000 children against polio and measles, along the Somali-Kenyan border and in the Dadaab refugee camps. Vitamin A supplements and deworming tablets will be included. The campaign is a joint initiative between WHO Kenya, WHO Somalia, UNICEF Kenya, UNICEF Somalia and the Kenyan Government.