The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a Grade 3 Emergency Appeal for the Greater Horn of Africa region on Friday. The United Nations organization is asking for USD 178 million (EUR 167 million) to carry out urgent, life-saving health work in 2023 to help the Greater Horn region. WHO’s Greater Horn of Africa region includes the seven affected countries of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda.
In a media briefing Friday in Geneva, Liesbeth Aelbrecht, WHO incident manager, warned of a surge in disease outbreaks and the highest number of malnourished children in years, with millions of people affected, in the context of a deteriorating food insecurity outlook.
The Greater Horn of Africa is one of the world’s most vulnerable geographical areas in relation to impacts of climate change and is currently experiencing one of the worst food insecurity situations in decades due to extreme climate events such as drought and flooding, as well as conflict, and volatile food and fuel prices.
Currently, as many as 48 million people are facing crisis levels of food insecurity in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda, which at a household level means that they are skipping meals and are likely to have depleted their savings and essential livelihood assets. Those 48 million people include six million who are facing emergency levels of food insecurity. About 11.9 million children under the age of five are likely to face acute malnutrition in 2023.
Conflict, climate, and the food crisis had displaced 18 million people in the region, Aelbrecht explained, speaking from Nairobi. Large-scale displacement was often accompanied by a deterioration in hygiene and sanitation and coupled with the acute scarcity of water these conditions largely contributed to an increased risk of outbreaks. Among the 18 million, who have been forced to flee their homes, are 13.5 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and 4.5 million refugees.
At this point, all seven countries in the region are battling measles outbreaks while there are cholera outbreaks in four countries. Malaria is endemic in the region and, in some places, the leading cause of death. Other current disease outbreaks include dengue, hepatitis E, and meningitis.
In Somalia alone, an estimated 1.8 million children under five need malnutrition treatment services, including close to 478,000 children with severe wasting. Humanitarian efforts had made a huge difference in averting famine in Somalia and elsewhere, but it was not over yet, Aelbrecht said.
According to WHO, those most at risk, are living in both Somalia and South Sudan. In South Sudan, an estimated 1.4 million children under five are estimated acutely malnourished, including some 346,000 children under five years that are severely acute malnourished.
Full text: World Health Organization (WHO): Appeal Greater Horn of Africa
Full text: PRESS BRIEFING BY THE UNITED NATIONS INFORMATION SERVICE, March 10, 2023