Stamford, Conn. – April 5, 2017–Americares is delivering emergency medical aid to Somalia, where a prolonged drought has pushed the country to the brink of famine.
The crisis in East Africa is one of the worst humanitarian emergencies in decades. Political conflict and a severe shortage of rain has propelled the region into a devastating food crisis that’s endangering the lives of 20 million people in four countries. Famine has been declared in parts of South Sudan, and other countries in the region are at risk of famine if the international community does not act quickly.
In Somalia, more than half of the country — 6 million people — are in need of humanitarian assistance, and hundreds of thousands have fled their homes in search of food and clean water. Children and adults weakened by malnutrition are living in crowded camps, heightening fears of disease outbreaks. At the same time, scarcity of clean water and inflated water prices are forcing many families to use unsafe water, increasing their risk of waterborne diseases. Nearly 19,000 cholera cases were reported in Somalia in the first three months of this year — more than in all of last year — and 443 people have died, according to the World Health Organization.
Americares response to the crisis focuses on treating cholera, a deadly diarrheal disease spread by contaminated water. The organization’s first shipments include more than 31,000 liters of intravenous fluids — enough to provide life-saving treatment to nearly 4,000 patients. Americares is supplying the fluids to Save the Children and Muslim Aid for use in cholera treatment facilities throughout the country.
“The lack of clean water puts malnourished children and adults at increased risk for cholera infections and other waterborne diseases,” said Americares Vice President of Emergency Response Garrett Ingoglia, who recently returned from a needs assessment in the region. “Thousands of lives are at stake.”
Americares has professional relief workers ready to respond to disasters at a moment’s notice and stocks emergency medicine and supplies in its warehouses in the U.S., Europe and India that can be delivered quickly in times of crisis. The organization responds to an average of 30 natural disasters and humanitarian crises worldwide each year, establishes long-term recovery projects and brings disaster preparedness programs to vulnerable communities.
Americares has been working in Sub-Saharan Africa since the 1980s, responding to emergencies, supporting maternal and child health programs, improving health worker safety and meeting the ongoing needs of under-resourced hospitals and clinics struggling with chronic shortages of medicine and supplies. When famine struck the Horn of Africa in 2011, Americares launched a large-scale response that rushed critical medicines, nutritional supplements and water purification supplies to the region. Americares response included building and equipping a field hospital with a therapeutic feeding center for Somali refugees crossing the border into Kenya. Americares also provided cholera treatment supplies and training in Somalia.