WHO launches appeal to respond to urgent health needs in the greater Horn of Africa

Children’s lives are among the millions in danger. Up to December 2022, the health service will need US$ 123.7 million to respond.

People’s lives and health are in danger in the wider Horn of Africa as a result of an unprecedented food crisis. The World Health Organization is today launching a fundraising request for US$ 123.7 million in order to carry out critical, life-saving work.

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More than 37.5 million people in the region’s seven countries—Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Uganda—are estimated to be living in IPC phase 3, a stage of crisis where people must sell their possessions to buy food for themselves and their families and where malnutrition is rampant. Over 80 million people are estimated to be food insecure in these seven countries.

This area has developed into a hunger hotspot due to violence, climatic changes, and the COVID-19 epidemic, with severe effects on the health and lives of its residents.
“Hunger is a direct threat to the health and survival of millions of people in the greater Horn of Africa, but it also weakens the body’s defenses and opens the door to disease,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “WHO is looking to the international community to support our work on the ground responding to this dual threat, providing treatment for malnourished people, and defending them against infectious diseases.”

The money will be used to take immediate action to save lives, such as strengthening national disease detection and response capabilities, acquiring and ensuring the supply of life-saving medications and equipment, identifying and filling gaps in health care infrastructure, and treating ill and severely malnourished children.

The issue is getting worse as it is anticipated that the upcoming rainy season will fail. Already, there have been instances of preventable infant and maternal fatalities. As violence, especially gender-based violence, is on the rise, there is a greater risk of trauma and injuries. Measles outbreaks are occurring in 6 of the 7 countries, despite low vaccination rates. Countries are battling cholera and meningitis outbreaks at the same time because of deteriorating hygienic conditions, a lack of clean water, and people leaving their homes on foot to obtain food, water, and pasture for their animals.

As more individuals are compelled to flee their countries, the estimated 4.2 million refugees and asylum seekers in the region are anticipated to grow. Communities find it more difficult to receive health care while traveling, a service that is already in short supply as a result of years of underinvestment and violence.

“Ensuring people have enough to eat is central. Ensuring that they have safe water is central. But in situations like these, access to basic health services is also central,” said Dr Michael Ryan, Executive Director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme. “Services like therapeutic feeding programs, primary health care, immunization, safe deliveries and mother and child services can be the difference between life and death for those caught up in these awful circumstances.”

The World Health Organization has already disbursed US$ 16.5 million from its Contingency Fund for Emergencies to guarantee that people have access to healthcare, treat malnourished children who are sick, and to stop, identify, and contain infectious disease epidemics.

WHO expresses gratitude to its contributors for making it possible to carry out this vital job.

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