June 2017: Malnutrition and Pediatric Treatment Underway in Galkayo North
Nearly four years after withdrawing its teams from Somalia, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has started treating patients again in the country. Teams are providing support to Mudug Regional Hospital, Galkayo North, in Somalia’s Puntland region, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health.
MSF began supporting the hospital’s therapeutic feeding program in May 2017 and the pediatric ward in June. With an average of 10 new admissions per day, medical staff in the intensive therapeutic feeding center have already treated 349 children under the age of five for severe acute malnutrition, with patient numbers peaking at 111 at one time.
A total of 201 children have also been admitted to an isolation ward and treated for measles. In addition, MSF has admitted 100 children to the pediatric ward and provided 2,297 outpatient pediatric consultations since the beginning of June.
Since withdrawing its teams from Somalia four years ago due to a series of extreme attacks on its staff, MSF has continuously monitored the situation in the country and re-engaged with the relevant authorities, assessing whether conditions would allow its staff to operate safely and humanitarian assistance to be delivered respectfully. MSF reiterates today the need for all parties to the conflict to support its medical assistance to the Somali people and to respect the safety of the humanitarian aid workers who risk their lives to care for them.
Because of its past experience, MSF’s return to Somalia is both cautious and modest. Its planned medical and humanitarian programs in Puntland will be on a limited scale for now. MSF’s presence in Somalia, the scope of its programs, and the potential expansion of its activities to other regions in Somalia will fully depend on the acceptance, facilitation, and active support received from the authorities and communities that MSF serves.
Why are we there?
- Armed conflict
- Endemic/epidemic disease
- Health care exclusion
In August 2013, MSF closed all of its projects in Somalia after 22 years of continuous operations.
This is an excerpt from MSF's 2013 International Activity Report:
Leaving Somalia was an extremely difficult decision to make. A series of violent attacks on Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) personnel took place with the tacit acceptance—or active complicity—of armed groups and civilian authorities. The minimal conditions necessary for operations were not respected, and hence MSF ceased supporting health facilities in Somalia by mid-September 2013, handing them over to government entities and humanitarian organizations where possible.
Although the humanitarian situation has improved since the nutritional crisis of 2011, the ongoing conflict in the south-central regions, together with natural disasters and seasonal outbreaks of disease, put huge strains on the weak health care system. In many parts of Somalia, access to health care is extremely limited and mortality rates for pregnant women and young children are among the highest in the world. Hundreds of thousands of Somalis remain displaced inside the country and in refugee camps across Somalia’s borders, living a precarious existence exposed to many forms of violence and extortion.
In and Around Mogidishu
Nine kilometers northwest of Mogadishu, in Dayniile, MSF supported a 60-bed hospital with an emergency room, operating theater, intensive care unit, pediatric unit, feeding center, and maternity facilities. The team performed 646 surgical procedures and over 8,272 consultations in 2013.
MSF’s 40-bed hospital in the Jaziira district of Mogadishu, which mostly catered to displaced populations, carried out some 25,700 consultations and 2,200 hospital admissions this year, and treated over 330 severely malnourished children.
To improve access to quality basic and specialist health care for children, MSF ran the only pediatric hospital in Mogadishu, in Hamar Weyne. The hospital had isolation wards for children suffering from measles or acute watery diarrhea and a nutrition center that treated 3,800 children between January and August.
MSF also ran health clinics for displaced populations and residents in the Wadajir, Dharkenley, and Yaaqshiid districts. These focused on maternal and child health and were able to respond to sudden outbreaks of disease such as cholera, treat peaks of malnutrition through feeding programs, and participate in mass vaccinations against polio, which had made a resurgence in the country. Over 100,000 consultations were carried out at these health facilities prior to MSF’s departure. All drugs and supplies from these clinics were donated to other aid organizations in Mogadishu, and the Dharkenley clinic has continued operations.
MSF began supporting Dinsor Hospital in Bay region in 2002. It is the main referral hospital for the entire region, and is especially active in providing maternity services and treating malnutrition, tuberculosis (TB), and kala azar (visceral leishmaniasis). In 2013, the team at the 60-bed hospital performed 16,208 outpatient consultations, around 1,458 antenatal consultations, and treated more than 680 malnourished children.
Lower Shabelle Region
The Afgooye district hospital serves displaced people and residents of the Afgooye Corridor with an outpatient and 30-bed inpatient department, emergency room, maternity facility, and an outpatient feeding program. Between January and September, the hospital conducted 11,408 medical consultations, admitted 738 patients to its wards and assisted the delivery of 953 babies. The Qatar Red Crescent Society assumed support of the hospital following MSF’s withdrawal.
Middle Shabelle Region
MSF provided outpatient care, maternal and child health services, vaccinations, and nutritional support at the Jowhar maternity hospital and health centers in Kulmis, Bulo Sheik, Gololey, Balcad, and Mahaday. The Mahaday and Gololey facilities also treated TB. Mahaday clinic closed in March 2013 due to insecurity and the other clinics were handed over to the International Medical Corps (IMC) in September. More than 60,000 consultations were performed, 1,040 deliveries assisted, and 8,447 women and children received vaccinations.
MSF ran projects in two referral hospitals in the divided city of Galkayo. In the Ministry of Health’s referral hospital in Galkayo North, MSF offered pediatric outpatient and inpatient care, maternity services, feeding programs, and TB treatment. MSF teams carried out 33,824 consultations in 2013. In addition, MSF ran a satellite program for TB treatment in Burtinle in Nugal region.
In the hospital in Galkayo South, MSF provided surgery and pediatric care, maternity services, nutrition programs, TB treatment, and immunizations. Two mobile clinics also provided primary health care in Galmudug region. Some 44,071 people received assistance through the hospital and the clinics between January and September. Management of the hospital was passed to the Mudug Development Organization, which now works in partnership with two international medical organizations to continue these vital services.
MSF’s hospital in the small rural town of Marere served as the referral hospital for the whole of Middle and Lower Juba and Gedo regions, providing basic and specialist health care, TB treatment, nutritional services, and emergency obstetric care to a huge catchment population. In addition, mobile teams covered the towns of Ketoy and Osman Moto and delivered basic health care to children under 12 and nutritional care to malnourished children under five. A small fixed clinic in Jilib had facilities to treat malnutrition, measles, and cholera. Over 68,000 medical interventions were carried out through this program between January and August.
In the port city of Kismayo, MSF ran an inpatient nutrition program for children under five, with special wards for those suffering from measles and cholera. This facility opened during the nutritional crisis of 2011 and saw a steady stream of children thereafter: 5,183 received treatment between January and September 2013. The International Committee of the Red Cross opened a similar structure at Kismayo Hospital in October to compensate for MSF’s withdrawal.
MSF had been supporting the inpatient, maternity, and surgical facilities of the 160-bed Burao Hospital in the Togdheer region of Somaliland since 2011. Prior to its withdrawal, MSF conducted 775 surgical interventions, admitted 1,602 people to the inpatient department, and assisted in the birth of 720 babies.
MSF also intervened in three prisons in Somaliland, carrying out medical consultations, improving water and sanitation facilities, and distributing relief supplies.
At the end of 2013, MSF had 1,188 staff in Somalia. MSF first worked in the country in 1979.