Somalia was the main African country affected by the tsunami, particularly the stretch of coast measuring about 650 km between Hafun (Bari region) and Gara’ad (Mudug region) in Puntland with an estimated population of 44,000 people. The tsunami resulted in the death of some 289 and destruction of shelters and water sources in some settlements.
In term of health, except for the direct loss of 289 lives, the tsunami did not pose any immediate major health risks. The health facilities in the tsunami-hit area were not damaged. However, they are very limited in number and severely understaffed and under-equipped. Access to health services has been constrained and limited due to long years of war and poverty.
Despite the challenging operational context in Somalia, WHO along with the humanitarian community responded quickly to the tsunami in affected areas.
WHO, in collaboration with other stake holders is striving to provide technical assistance and support to the regional health authorities in the areas of emergency preparedness and response, establishment of integrated disease surveillance system, and to improve the provision and delivery of basic/primary health care services in the coastal areas. WHO will continue to advocate addressing and covering the health needs of the population affected by the tsunami as well as the needs of the population targeted in the Consolidated Appeal 2005 for Somalia, which has received very limited funding to date.
Some of the specific projects currently being explored by WHO in collaboration with partners include training of community members from these villages as community health workers, commissioning of mobile health clinics to cover EPI, and basic preventive and curative health services. Logistics: The main emergency needs created by the tsunami were responded to promptly by health partners (UNICEF, SRCS, MSF-H and WHO) - minor wounds were addressed, basic essential drugs provided (including two basic emergency kits from WHO provided to local health authorities, sufficient each to cover the needs for 10,000 people for three months). WHO was also part of the UN interagency mission commissioned later to assess the impact/damage from Tsunami and the required magnitude and scale of recovery to rehabilitation efforts in the affected areas.