Somalia: A severely malnourished child recovers in Puntland

Milgo Qalinle, 28, happily narrates the healing journey of her 14-month-old daughter, Aisha, who was recently admitted for two weeks at the stabilization centre in a clinic in Burtinle Town, Puntland State. The child was referred there as a critical malnutrition case after her health condition deteriorated to a life-threatening level.

The drought forced Milgo, her husband and four children to move from Magacley village to Kalkaal IDP settlement in the outskirts of Burtinle. “The drought and staggeringly high commodity prices have left us struggling, especially that now that my husband barely gets any work,” she said. “I was unable to breastfeed Aisha because I barely eat enough food but seeing her standing and feeding well after two weeks here, brings joy to me and my family.”

The Shaafici Clinic is supported by the Puntland State health ministry and World Vision Somalia, which provide medicines, supplies for prevention and treatment of malnutrition and staff incentives. “Some mothers who are brought here to deliver weigh just 39 kilograms [because they do not have enough to eat],” said Saido, the head of the clinic. “You can imagine how serious the situation is when a pregnant mother’s weight is that low.” From January to May, the clinic made 200 referrals to Burtinle Main Hospital from more than 7,950 consultations: many being women and children suffering from malnutrition.

Milgo is one of at least 7.1 million Somalis - 45 per cent of the population – who are acutely food insecure. Across the country, about 1.5 million children under age 5 are facing acute malnutrition, of whom 386,400 are severely malnourished like Aisha.

Humanitarian partners have ramped up health and nutrition interventions, among other forms of assistance, to people affected by drought but are limited by resources and access. While 3.9 million Somalis have received assistance, the response needs to be scaled up to save more lives. At a minimum, the Drought Response and Famine Prevention Plan must be immediately and fully funded to prevent the worst outcomes.


UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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