The health sector in Somalia is currently in a fragile state and needs attention by donors, development partners and humanitarian actors according to a paper published today and endorsed by 26 aid agencies from the Somalia NGO Consortium. The Under-Five and Maternal Mortality rates in Somalia are amongst the highest in the world; one out of every seven Somali children dies before celebrating their fifth birthday (137 deaths/1,000 live births) with a higher number in southern and central Somalia.
The WHO estimates 3.2 million people in need of urgent access to minimum health services in Somalia. Every three hours a Somali mother dies due to pregnancy complications; and every hour, eight Somali children below the age of 5 die. As of January 2016, approximately ten hospitals have either been closed or have majorly curtailed their services across the country, and basic health posts and clinics are currently struggling to meet primary health needs.
Funding to the sector has significantly reduced resulting in minimized services and coverage to areas of need. Inconsistent funding and varying interests in supporting the health sector in Somalia has brought it almost to a definitive halt irrespective of there being an immense need in the sector.
NGOs are forced to make difficult decisions in their operations which include withdrawing health workers from high-need areas due to lack of funding, and/or compromising on quality of healthcare to enhance access. As at the end of 2015, there was a 61% drop in funding for healthcare compared to funding allocations made three years before. Only 41% of the overall funding requested for the 2015 Somalia Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) was met; this resulted to significant unmet gaps within the health sector.
“The basic health assistance to millions of Somalis is already insufficient to save the lives of many, particularly children. The consequences of a further reduction are unmeasurable and would define our responsibilities for generations. We call for an action to avoid it” said Marco Rotelli, the Secretary General of Intersos Humanitarian Aid Organization (INTERSOS).