UN and Somali federal authorities collaborate to airlift doctors and medical supplies to Somalia’s drought-stricken South West state

Volunteers and workers at Baidoa Airport offload medical supplies from an airplane that delivered medical supplies donated by Turkey for internally displaced persons in Baidoa, Somalia, on 22 March 2017. UN Photo

22 Mar 2017

UN and Somali federal authorities collaborate to airlift doctors and medical supplies to Somalia’s drought-stricken South West state

Truckloads of medical supplies are being sent to villages hard hit by drought in Somalia’s South West after a UN airlift of emergency supplies arrived in Baidoa today.

The supplies were donated by the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) through the generosity of the government and people of Turkey and will be distributed by humanitarian partners to treat severely dehydrated patients.

“We have received drugs, at least 81 cartons of solutions used to treat severe dehydration and food supplements. This will help supplement the supplies we already have,” said Dr. Bashir Abdi Ali, a volunteer medical doctor.

Dr. Bashir is one of 10 volunteer physicians from the Somali Medical Association who are donating their time to treat patients in the South West state capital who are in urgent need of medical attention.

The volunteer doctors arrived in Baidoa on Sunday to support local paramedics, who have been overwhelmed   by the rapidly growing number of people afflicted with cholera, acute dehydration and malnutrition.

“We are trying our best to fill the gap and offer medical support to affected populations,” Dr. Bashir noted.

Bay and Bakool regions are at the epicentre of the humanitarian crisis, with an estimated 2,000 people suffering from cholera after consuming water from contaminated sources.

Edmore Tondhlana, a Humanitarian Affairs Officer in Baidoa with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), welcomed the federal government’s support to the people of South West state.

“The humanitarian community in Baidoa would really like to appreciate the effort and gesture by the government, through the Prime Minister’s office, in sending in much needed drugs and supplies to combat AWD (acute watery diarrhea) and cholera, which are affecting much of South West state at this time,” Mr. Tondhlana stated.

According to Dr. Bashir, an assessment carried out by the volunteer doctors in settlements of internally displaced persons in South West state confirmed that malnutrition and food shortages are among the priority areas requiring an urgent response.

His sentiments were echoed by Dr. Mehmet Güllüoğlu, the Director General of Turkish Red Crescent, who said Turkish relief organisations are currently working in partnership with other agencies and Somali authorities, to deliver emergency humanitarian aid to affected communities in the country.

“As you know also, there was specific medical supply to Baidoa; about two tons of medical supply. It was important I believe because I also saw with my own eyes that the cholera outbreak is affecting people,” he added.

Dr. Güllüoğlu said he visited one of the hospitals, which had admitted 70 patients suffering from cholera, most of them being women and children. He cautioned that the outbreak might get worse if not effectively tackled.

According to statistics from OCHA, more than 6.2 million people – half of the total population in Somalia – are in urgent need of humanitarian aid.  Almost three million are facing crisis and emergency levels of food insecurity.