Humanitarian health action in Somalia - a call for urgent support


At a glance

Total population: 8.70 million

Number of people in need of humanitarian assistance: 3.64 million

Infant mortality: 88/1000 live births

Child mortality: 142/1000 live births

Maternal mortality: 1044 to 1400/100 000 live births

Global acute malnutrition: 19%

Severe acute malnutrition: 5%

Routine child immunization coverage: 30%

Number of basic emergency obstetric care (EmOC) facilities per 500 000 population: 0.8 (international standard of 5)

Antenatal care coverage: 26%

Worsening humanitarian situation

The humanitarian situation in Somalia has sunk to its lowest levels in 18 years.

Over the last twelve months, more than 1.5 million people have fled renewed heavy fighting in Mogadishu and other parts of South Central Somalia. Over 3.6 million people are now in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. The escalating violence, new population displacements, shrinking humanitarian space and limited health services present acute risks to the health of these internally displaced people (IDPs). The increasing gaps in essential and lifesaving health coverage and the lack of safe water and sanitation are leading to increased outbreaks of communicable diseases, growing rates of severe acute malnutrition, and dramatically low immunization rates.

Somalia's child and maternal health indicators are among the worst in the world, with an infant mortality rate of 88/1000 live births and an under-five mortality rate of 142/1000. Maternal mortality is extremely high at around 1400/100 000 live births. Women have a one in ten lifetime risk of dying during pregnancy or childbirth. One in five children under the age of five is acutely malnourished.

Health services are hampered by a crumbling infrastructure, poorly-trained health care workers and an acute shortage of staff and facilities. Only 5% of children are fully immunized, only 7% of people receive effective treatment for diarrhoeal diseases, and only 26% of women receive antenatal care. The population relies almost exclusively on non-governmental organizations for its basic health care. The recent suicide attack that targeted newly-graduated medical students underscores the challenges facing Somalia's health workforce.