The World Health Organization warns of growing health risks in the Horn of Africa as severe famine spreads there.
The World Health Organization’s incident manager for the Horn of Africa, Sophie Maes, says urgent action is needed to alleviate the health crisis and hunger that is plaguing and killing more and more people in the region.
WHO released $ 16.5 million from its emergency fund for operations there.
“Due to severe food insecurity, malnutrition rates are rising and getting higher, and especially infants and pregnant and lactating women very quickly,” Maes said. “… Sick and diseased children are more easily malnourished.”
The World Food Program warns that 20 million people are at risk of starvation as the Horn drought worsens.
Speaking from the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, Maes said the priority was to ensure everyone had access to food. At the same time, he said it was important that ‘health needs were not neglected.
He warned that the risk of disease outbreaks is higher due to the lack of clean water. He said the drought is drying up water sources, forcing people to leave their homes in search of food, water, and pasture for their cattle. As a result, he said, people are more likely to get sick as their life situation worsens.
“And we’re seeing an increase in outbreaks of the disease. We’re looking at measles in Djibouti, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Somalia, Sudan,” Maes said. “Cholera and acute water diarrhea in Kenya, South Sudan and Somalia. Meningitis, Hepatitis E, to name a few.”
Maes appealed for international support to help WHO provide the necessary care to severely malnourished children.
He said it is important to respond quickly to outbreaks of the disease, have an adequate supply of medicines and equipment available, and to ensure that children receive the necessary vaccines.