(ERGO) – Kismayo hospital has been inundated with dozens of malnourished children being brought in from remote rural parts of Lower and Middle Juba regions, where the drought has hit families very hard.
The head of nutrition at the hospital, Dr Mohamed Osman Geddi, told Radio Ergo there are 35 children suffering chronic malnutrition and 53 other children with malnutrition coupled with other diseases such as diarrhoea currently in the wards.
In total, 188 children, mostly under five, are being treated for varying degrees of malnutrition at the moment. Their families are camping out in the hospital compound as they have nowhere else to stay. In the hospital they can at least find shelter and food.
Dr Mohamed said most of the families have travelled long distances from places where there are no health centres nor access to due to insecurity. The hospital provides free services.
Fadumo Abdirahim Nur has been in the hospital for a week with her 15 month-old son, who is receiving nutritional supplements and treatment for diarrhoea. She had noticed her baby’s body seemed bloated but in her village of Muganbow, 90 km from Kismayo, there is no health centre she could take him. She had been trying to bring down his fever with a wet cloth on his forehead.
A relative in Kismayo sent her $6.5 (150,000 Somali shillings) to her mobile phone enabling her to bring the child to hospital.
“Today he is doing better – he is happy and playful,” she said. Fadumo’s family are farmers with a seven hectare field where they planted sesame, maize, watermelons and beans. The rains failed for the last year and half and as there was no other source of irrigation all the crops died.
Some of the mothers are worried about how they will feed their children when they recover and leave hospital.
Habibo Abdirashid expects to take her 11 month-old son home soon. She is a pastoralist and left her livestock in Abdidhore, 55 km from Kismayo, to bring him for treatment.
“I have nothing back home, but I have to go back to my other children,” she said. She left seven other children with their father. The family lost 97 goats in the drought and remains with just 18.
The areas where most of the malnourished are being brought from include Muganbow, Abdidhore, Abdalla-Biroole, Buulo-Haji, Jilib, Jamame, Kamsumo, and Yoontoy. The families suffering are both farmers and pastoralists. In many parts, rains have not come for two years.