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UN responds to flood-related disease outbreak in Central Somalia

NAIROBI/KENYA, 13 February 2007 – Despite insecurity in Central/Southern Somalia, the UN is continuing to respond to the needs of people affected by an outbreak of acute watery diarrhoea, the consequence of recent flooding in the area.

Though the flood water is receding, stagnant and contaminated water sources have provided a breeding ground for disease-causing organisms, leading to an surge in the incidence of diarrhoea and malaria.

 “Whatever the situation in Central/Southern Somalia, UNICEF and WHO have always retained a presence on the ground to deliver supplies and services to improve the lives of children and their families," said UNICEF Representative, Christian Balslev-Olesen.  "In this instance, we are working with partner organizations and communities to test and clean-up all water sources and ensure that affected people get the medical treatment they need.”

So far this year, to help manage the diarrhoea cases the InterSoS Hospital Jowhar, Central Somalia, has received medical equipment and two water tanks from UNICEF and WHO, one full diarrhoeal disease kit (for 100 severe and 400 moderately-affected patients) and intravenous infusions. Medical supplies have also been provided to the Somali Red Crescent Society (SRCS) and the International Medical Corps (IMC) for use in Hiran region.

Meanwhile, UNICEF has supported SRCS and MSF-Spain to carry out water testing and water purification, and conduct hygiene and sanitation awareness and training. It is also supporting water chlorination by the Hiran Water Supply and the cleaning water tanks by the Farjano Water Company which manages Jowhar’s water supply system.

Just last week, UNICEF airlifted into Central Southern Somalia over 5000 bars of soap, 50 thousand sachets of oral rehydration salts and 200 intravenous rehydration kits in addition to enough water purification tablets to provide 47 thousand households with ten litres water of clean water daily for a month.

So far, 444 people have been admitted to the InterSoS hospital in Jowhar for the treatment of acute watery diarrhea. According to the WHO surveillance update, 235 of these were children under age five. Of 42 reported deaths, 16 were in Belet Weyne, 5 in Buulo Burte, 14 in Jalalaqsi and seven in Jowhar regional hospital. A joint team of WHO and UNICEF professionals are assisting and coordinating the response in Hiran and Middle Shabelle regions.


UNICEF is on the ground in 156 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

About WHO

The World Health Organization is the United Nations specialized agency for health. It was established on 7 April 1948. WHO's objective is the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health. Health is defined in WHO's Constitution as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

For further information, please contact:

1. Christian Balslev-Olesen, Representative, UNICEF Somalia. Email: cbalslev-olesen@unicef.org. Tel: +254-20-7623950/53/55/70. Mobile: +254-722-514-569/733-629-933.
2. Fouad Mojalid, Representative, WHO Somalia. Email:mojalidf@nbo.emro.who.int.Tel:+254-20-623197
3. Denise Shepherd-Johnson, Head Communication, Advocacy and External Relations, UNICEF Somalia: Email: dshepherdjohnson@unicef.org. Tel: +254-20-7623950/53/55/70. Mobile: +254-722-719-867
4. Yvette Bivigou, Communication Officer, WHO Somalia: email:bivigouy@nbo.emro.who.int.Tel:+254-20-7361001




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