Media Centre

Press releases

Feature stories

Photo essays

Reporting guidelines

Media contact

 

Somalia, December 2015: Nearly 56,000 Somali children still suffering from severe acute malnutrition

© UNICEF Somalia/2015/Rich
Barlin – a mother of nine – has brought one of her children to the outpatient therapeutic clinic Baidoa.

BAIDOA, Somalia December 2015 – In Somalia today, and every day, there are nearly 56,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition in need of urgent assistance – mostly in the south and centre of the country.

One of the main underlying causes is clearly poverty. Mothers of malnourished children, who came for treatment at an Outpatient Therapeutic Centre in Baidoa in Southern Somalia, explained there was little nutritious food at their homes because of a lack of money.

“My husband is not working at the moment,” said Maqami, aged 19 who was holding a crying 11-month-old baby Ridwan who suffered from severe malnutrition, was treated and is now weak again. “He is a casual labourer and goes around collecting firewood.”

“The father of my children became disabled a couple of years ago, so he cannot work,” said another mother, Barlin Ali, 34, who came with one of her nine children. “He stays at home all day.”

The lack of resources leads to poor living conditions often without safe drinking water or sanitation. Children become malnourished after suffering from bouts of diarrhoea or other illnesses which stop them from absorbing nutrients from food. Their parents do not take the children for treatment because they are can not reach a facility, do not know what is available or are unable to pay for treatment. Amil Yusuf Hassan, a health worker at the UNICEF-supported Centre run by the Somali NGO the Deeg-Roor Medical Organisation (DMO) explained that living conditions were very basic in the area.

“There is a lack of clean water and proper sanitation and hygiene facilities. Feeding practices are also poor. Above all these, most fathers don’t work. Eating only one meal a day or two meals a day is very common,” she said.

© UNICEF Somalia/2015/Rich
Somali teenager Maqami visits the clinic in Baidoa, Southern Somalia with her malnourished baby Ridwan for treatment.

When the parents bring a child to the Centre, they are weighed and their health is checked. If they have no other complications such as a fever or illness, the parent is given a supply of ready to use therapeutic Food (RUTF) – a nutritious peanut-based paste which they can give to the child to eat at home.

Amil and her colleagues also dispense crucial information on feeding and hygiene practices to the mothers, such as handwashing and child feeding. UNICEF supports centres like this with generous funding from the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO), which provides funding for life saving work in nutrition, water, sanitation and other areas.

During the first half of 2015, the Centre saw between 26 and 120 children each month with two thirds of the children seen being cured.

The overall nutritional situation of Somali children has improved over the past five years but still some 145,000 children will need therapeutic nutritional support over the next 12 months mostly in south and central Somalia and many of them internally displaced. A child suffering from severe acute malnutrition is nine times more likely to die than a healthy one. The good news is that there is a 91 per cent recovery rate.

“While there has been some improvement, the number of malnourished children in Somalia is far too high,” said Ezatullah Majeed, Chief of Nutrition for UNICEF Somalia. “We must tackle this problem by improvements in several areas such as child feeding, water and sanitation and health. The support of donors such as ECHO is crucial for both preventing severe acute malnutrition and helping to cure those children already affected.”

 

 
Search:

 Email this article

unite for children