6 February 2013

Somalia: Healthcare Access Improves in Somali Areas Liberated From Al-Shabaab

Access to healthcare has improved in Somalia, with aid agencies now able to provide health services in areas previously controlled by al-Shabaab, the United Nations' IRIN news agency reported Tuesday (February 5th).

"Somalia has experienced a relatively increased humanitarian space, and this has helped aid agencies to increasingly [provide] health services to the population who were earlier inaccessible," said Omar Saleh, the UN World Health Organisation emergency co-ordinator for Somalia. "This has helped in detecting and dealing with possible disease outbreaks and putting [in place] adequate measures to control any outbreaks that might occur."

Humanitarian agencies have built eight health centres serving about 1 million people in areas liberated from al-Shabaab, and attacks on health workers have decreased, according to the UN Office for Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Vaccination campaigns were conducted in 14 districts of southern and central Somalia between November and January for the first time in four years, inoculating more than 383,000 children under age five against polio and almost 80,000 against measles. Another campaign to provide health and nutrition services, including vaccines, reached about 275,000 children and 394,000 women in 26 districts in December.

Despite the improvements, the World Health Organisation estimates that there are about 215,000 children who remain malnourished and at risk of complications from malnutrition.

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