MSF teams are running 13 medical-nutritional programs throughout south and central Somalia, but the intricacies of clan rivalries, the absence of an effective government, and general insecurity make it very difficult to reach the level of assistance that is needed.
The effects of ongoing drought in the Horn of Africa region have intensified the situation in Somalia, already precarious due to 20 years of violent conflict: food prices have gone up, livestock are dying, and humanitarian aid in the country is scarce. MSF's Marere Hospital in southern Somalia is the only health facility in the area. A Somali medical worker from Marere described the current crisis.
Somali refugees escaping the conflict in their country continue to arrive en masse in Dadaab, Kenya. Three camps now hold close to four times the number of people they were built for; collectively they form one of the largest refugee camps in the word. And yet newly arrived families can no longer get inside.
Chronic violence and neglect in parts of northeastern Uganda's Karamoja region means 70 percent of the population has no access to any kind of health care. This affects women the most - maternal mortality rates here are 75 percent higher than the national average. MSF goals in Karamoja's Kaabong district are to strengthen government health services and to reach people who otherwise can't get to health facilities.
Just across the Somali border lies a complex of overcrowded refugee camps filled with shelters made of twigs, reeds, and whatever scraps inhabitants can find. Each month, about 5,000 new people arrive at the camps, and must carve out space outside the official boundaries. Without access to adequate shelter, food, clean water and sanitation, they are exposed and vulnerable.
In Kenya, more than 22,000 children were infected with HIV in 2009. The district of Homa Bay, in rural western Kenya, has the country’s highest HIV prevalence rate. MSF is working to stop the spread of the disease in Homa Bay with its prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) program.
In Mathare, a poor area on the outskirts of Nairobi, MSF treats children with TB, but just diagnosing them is extremely challenging. Results of the lack of research into TB means the main diagnostic tool for the adult form of the disease is 130 years old and not at all adapted for use with children.