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Tsunami disaster – countries in crisis

After the tsunami, better health care for Hafun

© UNICEF Somalia/2005/Mulala
Doctor Abdullahi Siberia talks to patients at a makeshift tent dispensary built and supported by UNICEF in Hafun, Somalia.

By Denise Shepherd-Johnson

HAFUN, Somalia, 22 March 2005 - The devastation inflicted on the fishing village of Hafun, Somalia by the tsunami on 26 December 2004 has led to a development rebirth.

Before the tsunami struck Hafun, located on the north-eastern coast of Somalia in the area known as Puntland, the village’s 5,000 inhabitants received health services from mobile teams that would visit every three months.

Now the villagers are looking forward to the construction of a permanent health post that will offer full medical care. The Bari Medical Association, whose members are health practitioners from the Bari region, will work in partnership with UNICEF to provide a full-time nurse and the services of a doctor every two weeks. This will complement the work of three Hafun voluntary community health workers.

In addition, UNICEF will work with health authorities in the region to ensure that at least three additional qualified nurses will be assigned to the Hafun clinic, to establish primary health care services.

While UNICEF and its Somali partners finalize plans for the new health centre, expected to open within the next ten months, UNICEF is also providing additional support to the current health post which operates from two rooms in an old building just beyond the waterfront.  A package of extra services now provides an outpatient service for common illnesses; runs a maternal child health clinic that ensures pregnant women and new mothers receive the correct nutrients; and screens children under five for malnourishment, providing vitamin A and fortified food to supplement their diets. Also introduced is a home visit service to follow up on bed-ridden patients.

Following up on a rapid disaster response

The plans for the new health centre build on UNICEF’s rapid response within the first week after the tsunami. In collaboration with local partners, UNICEF launched a measles campaign in Hafun and the outlying areas, seeking to reach all children aged six months to 14 years with the vaccine and supplements of vitamin A. This was followed one week later by a tetanus toxoid campaign to reach women of child-bearing age. The health post in Hafun was also provided with supplies and equipment including oral rehydration salts, cholera kits (in case of possible outbreaks), examination beds, scales, essential drug kits, vaccines, cold chain supplies and 800 insecticide-treated bednets.

A joint UN team assessment of the emergency response found that the water and health interventions had been wholly successful in preventing any outbreaks of diarrhoeal diseases and no major health problems were observed.

The new health centre will follow up on and enhance the interventions of the past couple of months. Says UNICEF Resident Project Officer Alhaji Bah: “We’ll be working with our partners to engage a civil engineer to ensure that the new health centre is built at an adequate distance from the shoreline and to acceptable standards, so as to withstand any potential natural disaster. It will be fully equipped to serve not only Hafun but all the surrounding areas and nomadic communities.”

Certainly the tsunami is nothing that the people of Hafun would ever have wished for, but they do acknowledge that out of something bad has also come some good.




March 2005:
Jesper Morch UNICEF Representative in Somalia discusses how the money donated to UNICEF is being spent to help children.

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