Relief SCENE:Health
Aid Agencies Aim to Stop Malaria Outbreak
Coming Rains Risk Lives of Malnourished Somalis
By SOMALIA REPORT 10/14/2011
Aid agencies are embarking on a program of distributing mosquito nets and drugs in Somalia, including areas under the control of al-Shabaab, ahead of the expected rainy season to prevent a malaria epidemic and deaths amongst those weakened by famine.

"The health of many Somalis is already extremely compromised due to the drought and famine, especially children suffering from malnutrition," said Sikander Khan, UNICEF Somalia Representative. "We must act as swiftly as possible to prevent deaths due to this deadly disease.”

The pattern of deaths due to drought, then more deaths due to heavy rains – either due to flash floods or disease – is a familiar one to those working in the Horn of Africa, and UNICEF, along with WHO other partners, want to break this cycle.

280,000 nets are to be handed out in Hiran, Lower and Middle Shabelle and Lower and Middle Juba over the coming weeks. In Mogadishu, spraying will take place, while 560,000 doses of anti-malaria drugs and one million rapid diagnostic tests are to be handed out.

“With these investments in prevention and treatment, and by encouraging people to seek treatment quickly, we can avoid the tragic impact malaria has on people’s lives.” said Professor Michel Kazatchkine, Executive Director of the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM), which is funding the program along with the UK Department for International Development.

UNICEF has shown itself to be one of the agencies able to work in al-Shabaab areas, despite the insurgents reticence to rely on foreign aid and ban on many international charities and organizations.