WHO responds to health crisis amid growing food insecurity in Horn of Africa

The WHO is currently expanding its operations in the East Africa region, where there are severe food insecurity due to conflict, extreme weather events responsible for climate change (including the worst drought in 40 years), rising global food and fuel prices and its aftermath. Of the epidemic

More than 80 million people living in the region are food insecure and have resorted to extreme measures to feed themselves and their families. Acute malnutrition is widespread, especially in children.

As the incidence of malnutrition increases, so does the health needs of the region, especially children, and the lack of drinking water. People leave their homes in search of food, which prevents them from accessing health care and puts them at greater risk for disease outbreaks.

“The cost of inactivity is much higher,” said Dr. Ibrahima Sosey Fall, WHO’s assistant director general of emergency response. “While the priority is clearly to protect people from starvation, at the same time we must strengthen our health response to prevent disease and save lives. Today, many lives are lost if any life is lost due to complications related to vaccine-preventable diseases, diarrhea or malnutrition. A

Dr. Fall spoke in Nairobi, where the WHO hosted a two-day meeting [26-27 juin 2022] Plan its response to the seven countries affected by the health emergency – Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan – and coordinate its actions with other partners and UN agencies.

WHO’s emergency response ensures that the affected population has access to essential health services, focuses on treating critically ill children with severe malnutrition and preventing, detecting and responding to infectious disease outbreaks.

The WHO is setting up a hub in Nairobi, from where it will coordinate responses and provide vital medical care where they are most needed. These supplies include medicines and vaccines, as well as medicines and materials needed to treat severely malnourished children. In addition, the WHO is working with the Ministry of Health in affected countries to establish strong disease surveillance systems that can quickly detect and respond to disease outbreaks.

Editors’ note

  • For the fourth time in a row, the region has had a bad rainy season, the worst in 40 years. According to the latest forecast, there is a real risk that the next monsoon will be just as bad (source: WMO, in English).
  • More than 80 million people in the East African region are food insecure (source: WFP) and take extreme measures to feed themselves and their families.
  • The situation is particularly acute in the drought-stricken regions of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, where an estimated 7 million children are malnourished due to malnutrition, of which 1.7 million are severely malnourished (source: UNICEF, English). Severe acute malnutrition is a life-threatening health condition that requires urgent medical attention.
  • Not all countries are equally affected. In Uganda, for example, the phenomenon is concentrated in the northeast, while in South Sudan, more than 60% of the population suffers from food shortages.
  • Seven countries (Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan) are affected by measles and cholera.
  • All of them are infected with malaria. Children are disproportionately infected with malaria, with 80% of deaths in Africa occurring in children under 5 years of age.
  • Four countries – Uganda, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan – are facing an outbreak of meningococcal meningitis, a serious and life-threatening bacterial infection.
  • The region has been plagued by conflict and displacement for years. There are 4.2 million refugees and 11.1 million internally displaced people (source: UNHCR, in English).

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