3 in 5 new HIV infections are girls without access to education, says WHO

… Laments high malnutrition cases among children

By Chioma Obinna

As Eastern African region faces acute food insecurity occasioned by conflict among others, the World Health Organisation, WHO is scaling up its operations in eastern Africa, lamenting that the health risks in the region were increasing, while access to health care continue to deteriorate.

Eastern Africa is currently faced with acute food insecurity caused by conflict, extreme weather events – including the worst drought in 40 years induced by climate change, rising international food and fuel prices and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

WHO says over 80 million people in the eastern African region are food insecure and resorting to desperate measures to feed themselves and their families.

Speaking on the development, WHO Assistant Director-General for Emergency Response, Dr Ibrahima Socé Fall who identified cost of inaction as a major problem said” The cost of inaction is high,” said,  “While the clear priority is to prevent people from starving, we must simultaneously strengthen our health response to prevent disease and save lives. Even one life lost from a vaccine-preventable disease, diarrhoea, or medical complications from malnutrition in today’s world is one life too many.” 

Fail explained that that as malnutrition increases, the health needs in the region are mounting, especially among children, and clean water is becoming scarce.  “ As people leave their homes in search of food, they can no longer access health services, and become more at risk from disease outbreaks. “

 Fall  who spoke in Nairobi where WHO convened a two-day meeting to plan its response across the seven countries affected by the health emergency – Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda – and coordinate with other UN agencies and partners.

WHO’s emergency response is focused on ensuring affected populations can access essential health services, treating sick children with severe malnutrition, and preventing, detecting and responding to infectious disease outbreaks.

WHO is setting up a hub in Nairobi, from where it will coordinate the response and organize the delivery of life-saving medical supplies to where they are needed most.  These supplies include medicines, vaccines, as well the medicines and equipment needed to treat children who are severely malnourished.

Other than providing these critical supplies, WHO are working with ministries of health in the affected countries to set up robust disease surveillance systems to be able to quickly detect and respond to disease outbreaks.

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