Date: Mon, 6 May 2019 13:40:39 +0200

Nairobi, May 6, 2019 (AFP) - Drought has left nearly two million Somalis in desperate need of food, a humanitarian agency warned Monday, as poor rainfall pushes communities to the brink across East Africa.   The Norwegian Refugee Council said hundreds of thousands of children were already suffering malnutrition in Somalia and millions had abandoned their homes in search of food in the arid, conflict-torn nation.   "The humanitarian situation has deteriorated at an alarming rate as a result of the drought," Victor Moses, the council's country director in Somalia, said in a statement.

The failure of the so-called long rains that usually sweep East Africa between March and May has caused widespread crop failures and heaped immense pressure on livestock-dependent communities in the greater region.   Somalia is enduring its third-driest long rains season since 1981.   The United Nations estimates that 1.7 million people are going hungry, with that figure expected to grow by another half a million come July.

Last week, the UN said 44,000 Somalis had left their homes in rural areas for urban centres just this year -- joining the estimated 2.6 million internally-displaced people across the country.   Close to a million children will need treatment for malnutrition in 2019.   "The deterioration has come much earlier than seen over the last decades and before affected communities could recover from the most recent drought," the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.   But the hunger crisis could extend well beyond Somalia, with the entire Horn of Africa region at risk from drought and extreme weather exacerbated by climate change.   Almost 80 percent of the population in the Horn depend on farming for a living, said the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization.

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network said in April that if rains did not materialise in May "the season will have failed and the impact on food security outcomes would be more severe than currently anticipated".   The US-funded network warned more than 42 million people in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Somalia, Sudan, Kenya, Uganda and nearby Yemen were currently facing crisis levels of food insecurity.   In Kenya, considered the most dynamic economy in the region, the World Bank in April cited the impact of drought when trimming its growth forecast for the country in 2019.
Date: Thu, 7 Mar 2019 10:12:51 +0100

Mogadishu, March 7, 2019 (AFP) - A "heavy" explosion rocked central Mogadishu Thursday morning, leaving an unknown number of casualties, a security official and witnesses said.   "The blast occurred at a checkpoint close to the National Theatre, we don't have the details but there are casualties," said Mohamed Adam, a security official.   "The explosion was very heavy, and we could see the smoke and dust overwhelmed the whole area, it was a car bomb," said witness Ibrahim Farey.

Another witness, Aisha Hassan, said several vehicles were destroyed and buildings damaged, adding that ambulances were seen rushing to the scene "but it is impossible to get close to the area now".    The road in which the blast occurred is close to the presidential palace and home to restaurants and tea-shops.   Earlier this month, at least 20 people died in an attack in Mogadishu which saw Al-Shabaab jihadists battling security forces for nearly 24 hours.
Date: Fri 30 Nov 2018
Source: Outbreak News Today [edited]

The Ministry of Health of Somalia has announced 27 new suspected cases of cholera, with one death, reported in Banadir region for epidemiological week 46 (12 to 18 Nov) of 2018. Of these new cases, 44% (12) are female, and 44% (12) are children below 5 years of age.

During this reporting period, of the 7 stool samples collected from suspected cholera cases and tested in the National Public Health Laboratory (NPHL), 6 samples were positive for _Vibrio cholera_, serotype O1 Ogawa. The cumulative total of cases is 6587, including 45 associated deaths (case-fatality rate, 0.7%), since the beginning of the current outbreak in December 2017 along the Shabelle River.

The number of weekly suspected cases has declined from a peak of 296 cases in epidemiological week 23 to 27 cases this week. For the past 3 weeks, the number of reported weekly cases ranges between 19 and 27. Only Banadir region has reported cases for 6 consecutive weeks, and this week active transmission of suspected cholera cases has been reported in 7 districts in Banadir: Darkenley, Daynile, Hawlwadag, Hodan, Karran, Madina, and Waberi. None of the cases reported this week had received the oral cholera vaccination (OCV) in 2017.

WHO is providing leadership and support to the Ministry of Health response efforts to this continued outbreak. WHO has continued to support clinical care delivery, including supervision and monitoring of case management in cholera treatment centres. Surveillance and prompt rumour investigation have been ongoing.

All alerts have been responded to across the country through the early warning alert and response network (EWARN), and routine collection and analysis of stool samples have continued at the NPHL. An OCV campaign has been planned for February 2019, targeting 660 000 people living in internal displaced person camps in 6 high-risk districts in Lower Jubba, Middle Shabelle, Lower Shabelle, and Banadir regions. Also, an expansion of reporting sites through the EWARN system has been planned, adding another 400 health facilities in the country.
Date: Fri, 9 Nov 2018 16:16:59 +0100

Mogadishu, Nov 9, 2018 (AFP) - At least 10 people were killed Friday in blasts that occurred near a popular hotel and the police headquarters in the Somali capital Mogadishu, police said.    Twin car bombs exploded in the capital within moments of each other, followed by gunfire and a third blast a while later, sending thick plumes of black smoke into the sky, according to an AFP reporter.

The attack took place in the vicinity of the Sahafi hotel and Criminal Investigation Division (CID) police headquarters.   An initial "two blasts struck the perimeter of the Sahafi hotel along the main road... more than 10 people died, most of them civilians and some security guards," said police official Ibrahim Mohamed.   "I saw nine dead bodies along the road and they were civilians, some of them riding on rickshaws when the blasts occurred. Many more were wounded," witness Abdirahman Suleyman told AFP.   The exact target was not initially clear.

Mogadishu faces frequent bombings at the hands of Al-Shabaab, an Al-Qaeda affiliate which has been fighting to overthrow the internationally backed Somali government for over a decade.   The Shabaab were forced out of the capital by African Union troops in 2011.   But they still control parts of the countryside and attack government, military and civilian targets, seemingly at will, in Mogadishu and regional towns.
Date: Thu 25 Oct 2018
Source: Radio Ergo [edited]

Eleven children have died, and more than 40 others have been hospitalised in the past 5 weeks in a measles outbreak in Somalia's Middle Shabelle region.

According to Intersos, which runs the local hospital in Jowhar as well as a number of health posts in the region, dozens of families in several villages in the region have been affected by the measles outbreak since [20 Sep 2018].

The 1st measles cases were reported in Dha'afo in Mahaday district and Burane in Jowhar district.

Dr Abdirahman Ali Abdirahman, director of the Intersos hospital, confirmed the deaths of 11 children, adding that hundreds of others are highly vulnerable to death or permanent disability due to low levels of immunisation.

"The last time a vaccination campaign was carried out in these villages was 2017," Dr Abdirahman said. "The affected children were mostly those who were not brought for the vaccination because their parents do not understand the importance."

A father of 7 who lives in Dha'afo village told Radio Ergo that 3 of his children, a girl and 2 boys, were infected with measles. He had been using an herbal solution made from a local plant called Marer (_Cordia sinensis_) to treat the children.

He said the 2 boys recovered from the disease after several days, but his daughter's condition deteriorated, leading to her becoming blind. "We have been using Marer to treat the children, and the boys fully recovered, but the girl has been sick for 22 days. We later realised that the girl could not see anything, and we rushed her to the hospital, where the doctors confirmed that she had lost her sight," Jafar said.

[Another parent] who lives in Burane village 20 km [about 12.4 mi] from Jowhar town lost his 8-month-old daughter. Four of his children were infected with measles.

"I lost a girl to the disease, but the other 3 are now healthy. We don't have a dispensary in this village, and it is difficult to get any treatment if one falls sick," Adan said.

A mother who lives in Dha'afo village also lost her 4-year-old daughter. She blames the death of her daughter on the fact that she was not vaccinated. "Five of my children have contracted the disease. Four of them were immune to the disease and recovered quickly, but the daughter, who was never vaccinated, died of the disease," the bereaved mother said.
[Education of the parents is critical to teach them the importance of vaccination. If they do not appreciate its importance, they will not bring their children in to the clinics to be immunized. - ProMED Mod.LK]
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