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Somalia, 22 March 2017: A father’s agonizing vigil at a cholera treatment centre

© UNICEF Somalia/2017/Makundi
Three-year-old Nur Ismail fights for his life at the Cholera Treatment Centre at Baidoa Regional Hospital, where he was admitted with severe Acute Watery Diarroea. His father, Hassan Ismail sits next to his bed, desperately hoping for an improvement.

By Athanas Makundi

BAIDOA, Somalia, 22 March 2017 – Three-year-old Nur Ismail fights for his life at the cholera treatment centre (CTC) at Baidoa Regional Hospital, where he was admitted with severe acute watery diahorrea/cholera while his father watches him, wondering if he waited too long to bring him in.

The treatment centre is packed with adults and children emaciated with sunken eyes, all groaning in pain. Nur’s father, Hassan Ismail sits next to his son’s bed, desperately watching him for any sign of improvement.

“I should have brought him here sooner,” said Hassan Ismail, who walked all night from Daudow village, 15 kilometres from Baidoa Hospital. “For three days, he has been vomiting with severe diahorrea. He is stable and the doctors said he is lucky to be here.”

Somalia's prolonged drought has forced communities to flee their homes and settle in makeshift camps with no proper sanitation or access to safe water. The widespread use of contaminated water has led to the spread of AWD/cholera with more than 13,000 cases so far this year – nearly five times as many as during the same period last year.

© UNICEF Somalia/2017/Makundi
Residents of Bulo Isak IDP camp in Baidoa fetch clean drinking water using vouchers provided by UNICEF and provided by a local NGO.

“The situation is getting worse,” said Isak Mohamud, the Director General of the Ministry of Health in Baidoa, during a visit to the cholera patients. “We have more than 30 patients admitted at the CTC and while we may have the capacity to treat and manage these patients, there are many cholera stricken villages outside Baidoa, who have challenges with receiving medical supplies and this is worrying.”

In response to the growing crisis, UNICEF has provided cholera treatment kits, oral rehydration salts and zinc. To tackle the root cause of the epidemic, UNICEF is providing clean drinking water, distributing emergency supplies and training hygiene promoters to bring about behaviour change and to stop spread of the disease. This crucial work is possible thanks to generous funding from the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID), the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) and the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).

© UNICEF Somalia/2017/Makundi
Baidoa residents fetch water at the centre of Baidoa Town. UNICEF supports Warjaaay Water Supply Company in Baidoa– a Private Public Partnerships companyo ensure efficient supply of clean drinking water in Baidoa town and surrounding areas.

“We are providing safe water to people in cholera outbreak areas,” says Ann Thomas, UNICEF Chief of WASH Somalia. “We are conducting case tracing to identify vulnerable communities, water source chlorination, and distribution of hygiene kits that include soap, buckets and aquatabs- tablets for water purification.”

“We are also promoting basic hygiene practices and sensitization against open defecation – a practice that contributes to cholera transmission.”

UNICEF is working with Golweyne Relief and Rehabilitation NGO (GRRN) to distribute vouchers to people living in the 26 newly created camps for the displaced around Baidoa town.

“Each household receives 45 litres of water a day,” says Ahmed Mohamed – the WASH officer at GRRN. “ But with the numbers increasing, it might be a challenge to sustain the designated number of litres per household.”

© UNICEF Somalia/2017/Makundi
Children happy to receive water after their mother brought it from the water distribution point. Since the cholera outbreak, to find clean drinking water has been difficult. UNICEF is working with Golweyne Relief and Rehabilitation to distribute water vouchers for the people access clean drinking water.

UNICEF drilled five boreholes equipped with generators and partnered with Warjaaay Water Supply Company in Baidoa – a Private Public Partnerships company to ensure the efficient supply of clean drinking water in Baidoa town and surrounding areas.

But as the cholera continues to remain a challenge, UNICEF along with WHO and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, has supported the Government of Somalia to launch a major vaccination campaign to protect over 450,000 people from cholera in three of the worst hit areas.



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