5 min read

Restoring Health and Hope in Somalia

July 4, 2024
by Medair
Medair provides free health services and Child-Friendly Spaces in Somalia, restoring hope and health to vulnerable communities.

Ongoing Challenges and Humanitarian Needs in Somalia

In 2024, Somalia continues to face a wide range of humanitarian challenges, exacerbated by climate shocks, conflict, and widespread poverty. The historic drought of 2020-2023, followed by severe flooding in late 2023, have heavily impacted the health infrastructure and overall well-being of the population. As a result, 6.9 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, of which health care is a critical component. Filling the huge gaps requires a multifaceted approach that focuses on expanding access to health and nutrition services, strengthening disease surveillance and response, providing maternal and child health services, and integrating mental health support. Medair is working hand-in-hand with local partners to address the critical health needs of the Somali population.

A Personal Story of Resilience and Recovery

In central Somalia, Fadumo* and her two-year-old son, Hassan*, who are facing the challenges of the crisis, have benefited from integrated health and nutrition services at one of Medair's supported facilities. "I have known this facility for a long time," explained the mother. "When I first came here, my son was malnourished, and he was successfully treated. Since then, I am sure that this facility provides good services, and I am happy that I can come here for free treatment".

Fadumo and her two-year-old son Hassan during treatment in one of the facilities supported by Medair in central Somalia. © Medair

Fadumo's husband currently works as a casual laborer on a construction site. However, the income is not enough to afford health services for the family. In general, access to health facilities in Somalia is very limited. For many, the nearest functioning health facility is far away and difficult to reach. More than half of the population lives below the national poverty line and cannot afford health services. In addition, health facilities often lack essential drugs or services. The destruction and damage to more than 10% of facilities during the seasonal "Deyr floods" since late 2023 has further strained health service delivery.

Medair's support restored hope to Fadumo and her family at just the right time. When the mother became malnourished during her pregnancy, she remembered the services her son had previously received and knew where to go for help. She was enrolled in the nutrition program for pregnant and lactating mothers and is now receiving a therapeutic porridge to help her regain her weight and strength.

We met Fadumo when she came for a follow-up visit for her son, Hassan, who had fallen ill. "My boy started vomiting and coughing. As a mother, I am worried and want to get help for him immediately. He received treatment and medication and has already improved a lot," rejoiced the mother.

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Hassan has improved a lot since he received the treatment he needed in a facility supported by Medair in central Somalia. Before he was coughing and vomiting a lot. © Medair

Holistic Health and Nutrition Services

By providing free health and nutrition services, Medair ensures that some of the most vulnerable people have access to the care they need. This reduces mortality and morbidity, especially among children and pregnant women, and provides a sense of security and hope for a healthier future. Integrated services address multiple health needs simultaneously, improving overall health outcomes. This holistic approach helps prevent and manage disease more effectively, resulting in a stronger, healthier community. With additional health and nutrition education and awareness programs, our team empowers communities with knowledge about disease prevention and healthy practices, leading to long-term benefits and greater self-sufficiency.

During a health education session, this mother receives important messages to help her better understand health care and preventive measures. © Medair

Creating Safe Havens for Children

Another important service that this facility in central Somalia supports through Medair's integrated approach is the provision of Child-Friendly Spaces (CFS).

In Somalia, children face multiple threats to their safety and well-being, including violence, family separation, child labour, and recruitment by armed groups. Ongoing conflict and instability have led to widespread displacement and trauma among children. Child-friendly spaces are critical in Somalia because they provide a protective environment where children can be shielded from these threats. They also provide a space where children can receive emotional and psychological support, helping them to recover from trauma and stress. By providing structured activities and a sense of community, child-friendly spaces contribute to the overall mental health and resilience of Somali children.

These girls are having a good time playing in a Child-Friendly Space in a health facility supported by Medair. © Medair

Integrating child-friendly spaces into health facilities in Somalia makes sense for a number of reasons: Health facilities often have better security, providing a safer environment for children participating in  child-friendly spaces. With these spaces, health facilities can provide comprehensive care that addresses both the physical and psychosocial needs of children. Families who already visit health facilities for medical reasons can easily access the services offered by child-friendly spaces , ensuring higher participation and coverage. Furthermore, using existing infrastructure reduces costs and allows for better resource allocation in humanitarian programming, where resources are always scarce.

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This boy is playing with a tennis ball and enjoys it so much that he can forget about all the hardships during the crisis in Somalia. © Medair

Aamiina*, Medair's local Community Health Project Manager in central Somalia proudly shares:

By providing a nurturing and caring environment, CFS embody the principles of love and service central to Medair’s values. The spaces are designed following clear international standards and guidelines, monitoring, and feedback mechanisms to ensure transparency and accountability. They are inclusive, serving all children regardless of their background. Activities in CFS are designed to bring joy and happiness to children, helping them to experience moments of normalcy and pleasure despite their circumstances. CFS staff are trained to interact with children compassionately, addressing their needs with empathy and understanding. By providing a safe and respectful environment, CFS uphold the dignity of every child, ensuring they are treated with respect and care.”

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This boy is learning English with a book in a Child-Friendly space in a health facility supported by Medair in central Somalia. © Medair

Medair's activities in Somalia continue to demonstrate our commitment to restoring hope and dignity to the vulnerable and hard-to-reach. Through integrated health and nutrition services in this facility and many others, we embody the values that guide our mission and ensure that our work has a profound and lasting impact on the communities we serve. Your support can help us continue this vital work. Join us in making a difference. Donate to Medair today and help restore hope and health to the people of Somalia.

Medair services in central Somalia are funded by USAID’s Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance, Tearfund Australia/ the Australian government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Help a Child/ the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs , Swiss Solidarity, the World Food Programme, and generous and private donors.
This content was produced with resources gathered by Medair field and headquarters staff. The views expressed herein are those solely of Medair and should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of any other organisation.  
* All names in this story have been changed for security reasons and are not the real names of the persons.
July 4, 2024
by Medair
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