Over 1,500 children treated in new MSF health facility in Mogadishu

28.02.2011 | Banadir, South Central Somalia

Médecins Sans Frontières has opened a new health facility in Dharkenley district, South of the Somali capital, to assist the growing number of people affected by the ongoing conflict.

Since January 31st, the medical humanitarian NGO Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has treated 1,528 children, 62 per cent of whom are under five, in its new health facility in Dharkenley district. Among them, 234 children were admitted to the nutrition programme, and 700 were vaccinated. “The main pathologies the medical teams found include respiratory infections, skin diseases and diarrhoea. In fact, all the conditions we came across are related to the precarious living conditions the population suffers,” said project coordinator Alexandra Rutishauser-Perera.

Meanwhile, 1,113 children under the age of 15 have been vaccinated against measles after four patients with the highly contagious disease were admitted to the facility. With young children being the most vulnerable, assisting children under 12 will be the main focus of the clinic, which will provide therapeutic feeding for malnourished patients and routine vaccinations for children amongst other things.    

Hawa (not her real name ), a mother of five, was one of the first to come to the clinic. Several of her children had watery diarrhoea, and she had been unable to find effective treatment for them. “I was very happy when people from the area told me that MSF is opening a new health facility here in Dharkeynley,” she said. Hawa knows MSF well; before arriving to Dharkenley, she fled from Yaaqshiid, to Kaaraan, where MSF also used to run health facilities. “All my children – from the youngest aged two to the eldest, who is now 10 – have been vaccinated at MSF facilities. Before today, I would sometimes wish I could access services as good as those I had in the past.”

 But the Dharkenley facility is just a drop in the ocean in a place where needs remain high. Somalis fleeing violence continue to arrive in the area and until now, access to health care has been very limited. MSF is also working on broadening its scope of operation by opening another health facility in the nearby district of Wadajir. This new centre would provide primary health care for adults and children, as well as maternal and child health care, vaccination and nutrition services.

 MSF has worked continuously in Somalia since 1991 and currently provides free medical care in eight regions of south central Somalia. Over 1,300 Somali staff, supported by approximately 100 staff in Nairobi, provide primary health care, malnutrition treatment, health care and support to displaced people, surgery, water and relief supply distributions. MSF does not accept any government funding for its projects in Somalia, all its funding comes from private donors.

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