UNFPA’s Chief of Humanitarian and Fragile Contexts Branch, Ms Ugochi Daniels. PHOTO/COURTESY
By PATRICK MAYOYO
The ravaging drought in Somalia poses a major health risk to more than 600,000 pregnant women who may require urgent care a humanitarian agency has warned.
According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) of the 6.2 million people affected by the drought ravaging Somalia, more than 1.5 million are women of childbearing age.
UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is particularly concerned about the fate of 607,000 pregnant women across the country who need maternal health services to ensure a safe pregnancy and delivery, including emergency obstetric services.
“To help address their needs, UNFPA is scaling up its emergency response to help more than 130,000 pregnant women who may require urgent care,” the UN agency said.
UNFPA’s Chief of Humanitarian and Fragile Contexts Branch, Ms Ugochi Daniels, has in the recent past visited various drought-affected areas in Somalia.
“I was struck by the fact that the face of displacement is a woman with her child. The men have stayed behind to tend their farms and livestock while it is the women who have made the arduous and risky trek often for many days to get some relief,” Ms Daniels said.
Somalia already has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, with over nearly 1 of every 22 mothers dying from pregnancy related causes. More than 350 000 Somalis are refugees and a further 400 000 are internally displaced.
Daniels said the toll of displacement, drought, and the lack of services on women and girls is immense, and calls for an equally immense response to provide direct medical services and support.
UNFPA provides life-saving reproductive health services across Somalia including referral of complicated cases during pregnancy and delivery, emergency reproductive health kits and medical and psychosocial support to survivors of gender-based violence.
UNFPA is appealing to international donors for funding of $24 million for the Somalia humanitarian response for reproductive health and to protect women and girls from gender-based violence (GBV).