Somalia: Children hardest-hit by AWD in Mogadishu

News and Press Release
Originally published

MOGADISHU, 4 April 2011 (IRIN) - Up to 30 children suffering from acute watery diarrhoea (AWD) are treated daily at the Banadir Hospital in Mogadishu, capital of Somalia, medical staff told IRIN.

Although the exact number of children affected by AWD across the city could not be established, the medical source, who requested anonymity, told IRIN some deaths had been reported.

"We give the patients ORS [oral rehydration solution] and other medical care they need," an official at Banadir Hospital said.

Amina Mohamoud, a mother of five in Mogadishu, told IRIN: "Two days ago, my sister's children died of diarrhoea and two of my children have been admitted to Banadir Hospital."

Mohamoud, who had taken another child to a health facility run by the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia (AMISOM), said: "I have come here to have my child's health checked."

On average, an AMISOM official said, the facility handles up to 350 patients in three days.

On 31 March, Osman Libah, a deputy minister in Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG), said: "An outbreak of the disease has been reported in Madina district where many displaced people are. Many children in Mogadishu are among the suffering internally displaced persons [IDPs]; they face diarrhoea, malnutrition and food shortages."

Provision of health services in Mogadishu is often hampered by ongoing fighting between government troops and oppositionist Islamist militia, mainly the Al Shabab group.

In its 25 March-1 April weekly humanitarian update, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA Somalia), said the situation in Mogadishu remained tense, with sporadic shelling, especially in Hodan and Boondheere.

"Ambulance sources indicated that at least 25 civilians were killed and nearly 100 others were wounded during the reporting week," OCHA reported. "The stand-off between the TFG/AMISOM and Al Shabab forces around the main Bakara Market continued and the market remained closed for most of the week. This has affected the livelihoods of many urban poor who depend on the market to earn their living either as porters or for small-scale businesses."

OCHA reported that between 26 and 29 March, the UN World Health Organization (WHO), in collaboration with Banadir University, conducted two training courses on AWD detection, management and control at the university for 151 health workers from Banadir, Middle Shabelle regions and the Afgoye corridor, which hosts hundreds of thousands of IDPs.