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AmeriCares Building a Field Hospital for Somalis Suffering from Famine

  • September 1, 2011

Lifesaving care will aid starving refugees

STAMFORD, CT – AmeriCares is building and equipping a field hospital for the thousands of refugees fleeing the devastating famine in Somalia. Tens of thousands have already died and officials say 12.4 million people in the Horn of Africa need immediate humanitarian relief from the worst drought in more than a half century. 

The 4,500-square-foot AmeriCares field hospital will house a therapeutic feeding center, operating room, intensive care unit, as well as a labor and delivery ward, laboratory and pharmacy when it opens in Kenya at the end of September. The hospital will be operated and managed by International Medical Corps, which is providing medical professionals to staff the facility.

“More than half of the children under age 5 arriving at refugee camps in Kenya are acutely or severely malnourished, which weakens their immune systems,” said AmeriCares VP of Emergency Response Ella Gudwin. “The field hospital will ensure they have access to lifesaving medical services on site, as well as nutritional interventions, dramatically increasing their chances of survival.”

The facility will be built within Kambioos refugee camp, which opened earlier this month to handle the overflow from the Dadaab complex; more than 400,000 people are living in Dadaab, an overcrowded and underserved area initially intended to house 90,000. The new arrivals from Somalia – the sickest and most vulnerable refugees – are transferred to Kambioos. AmeriCares built similar field hospitals after earthquakes in Chile, China, Pakistan and Haiti.

“We are deeply grateful to our longtime and generous partner, AmeriCares, for building and equipping this invaluable field hospital to support our humanitarian relief efforts in Kenya,” said Nancy Aossey, President and CEO of International Medical Corps. “This facility, as well as the medical equipment and medicines AmeriCares is providing, will allow us to deliver health care to a community devastated by drought and famine and to save countless lives.”

Since 1991, International Medical Corps has worked to deliver health care and training to drought-prone communities throughout East Africa. The organization is currently providing a multi-faceted drought and famine response in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia with an emphasis on high-impact nutrition interventions. As overcrowded refugee camp conditions can increase the risk of communicable diseases, International Medical Corps is also prioritizing sanitation and hygiene programs.

AmeriCares immediately began rushing medical aid to East Africa after the United Nations declared a famine in parts of Somalia in July. The first aid shipment contained enough basic medicines and supplies to treat 15,000 severely malnourished patients in Mogadishu. Nine more AmeriCares aid shipments are planned through October, including deliveries of nutritional supplements and water purification supplies.

AmeriCares has been aiding survivors of natural disasters, political conflict and extreme poverty in Africa and around the world for nearly 30 years, saving lives and restoring health and hope. 

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