November 23 2011

Temporary SOS Clinic opens within one kilometre of firing line

23/11/2011 - Since insecurity forced the closure of the SOS Hospital in Mogadishu on 10 October in excess of 4,000 sick children have been without desperately needed paediatric services. In response, a concerned SOS medical team has now opened a temporary facility – the same week in which their colleagues in southern Somalia help bring some areas out of famine.

Residents of north Mogadishu who were former paediatric hospital patients at the SOS Hospital in the city have been showing up for treatment in ever increasing numbers at the Badbado camp for the internally displaced people. The burden this 10 km journey places on infirm and malnourished children was a source of serious concern to SOS Children’s Villages medical personnel. As a result, they opened a temporary medical facility within one kilometre of the hospital grounds. The building, that is without electricity has since been inundated by hundreds of parents desperately seeking treatment for children suffering from a range of illnesses. Increasing levels of measles and diarrhoea are of particular concern in the area.

Nursing students are among the victims of hospital closure - Photo: Hilary Atkins 
Nursing school disrupted by hospital closure

Students from the SOS Community Nursing School in Mogadishu were due to return from their work placement assignments this month to continue their training at the SOS Hospital. Their plans have been put on-hold as the hospital grounds remain out-of-bounds, for the seventh consecutive week. The street that runs between the SOS Children’s Village compound and the hospital marks the firing line in a stand-off between government forces supported by African Union troops and al-Shabab militants. The eighty students who are participants in a rigorous four-year diploma programme share the frustration felt by the Somali medical profession who face an acute shortage of such well trained staff.

The problem has reverberated across the country.  In southern Somalia Abdi Muse Mumin, the SOS Clinic Manager for the Bay region who is a former SOS Nursing School graduate is in need of well trained personnel to help expand much needed health services in the area.  “Additional trained nurses are urgently required to help maintain the quality of service we provide to 3,000 severely affected famine victims at the SOS Emergency Medical Centre in Bulo-Fur village alone”, he said.

A lot done but more to do in southern Somalia - Photo: SOS ArchivesSome areas no longer in famine, but challenges remain

Abdi’s efforts and those of his staff have contributed to the fact that some areas in southern Somalia are “no longer in famine,” according to the UN’s Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit and Famine Early Warning System. According to the report issued in the past week “scaled-up humanitarian assistance has had a significant impact on parts of Bay, Bakool and Lower Shabelle regions.” It warns against complacency as displaced Somalis in many areas including Mogadishu continue to make up some of the 4 million people who remain in need of urgent assistance.