Funding shortfall threatens vital health services for millions of Somalis, UNICEF warns

27 May 2014 – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned today that it will have to suspend essential health services in Somalia unless it receives additional funding within one month, delivering a major blow to millions of women and children who depend on the agency and its partners for help.

More than 70 per cent of healthcare in Somalia is provided by UNICEF and its partners, including supplies of medicines, all vaccines, the wages of employees, training of health workers, fuel for generators of water and medical equipment.

UNICEF’s spokesperson in Geneva, Christophe Boulierac, told reporters that the suspension of health services would represent an enormous difficulty, in particular for children.

“More than 620,000 children would no longer have access to free vaccinations and medical services such as basic treatment for diarrhoea and pneumonia,” he stated.

“The suspension would also affect the supply of antibiotics, pre-natal services currently benefiting 280,000 pregnant women and other services for 13,000 women of childbearing age.”

Mr. Boulierac stressed that if funding is not received immediately, UNICEF will have to stop providing essential life-saving services within one month.

The services provided by UNICEF and its partners in Somalia have saved many lives so far, and some three million Somali were currently receiving health assistance, principally in the centre and in the south of the country, he noted.

Without life-saving therapeutic assistance, about 200,000 children under the age of five in Somalia will be at risk of dying of malnutrition by the end of this year, Mr. Boulierac warned.

“If these children do not quickly receive therapeutic assistance, this situation will become even worse with the lack of access to preventive nutrition interventions,” he stated.

The agency needs about $15 million to continue its essential health services but has only received 10 per cent of this amount.