The World Health Organization (WHO) has welcomed a generous US$2 million Emergency Grant Aid from the Government of Japan to contribute to enhancing the epidemic disease surveillance and supporting emergency primary health care response activities in Somalia.

The major health problem in Somalia remains largely preventable communicable diseases. Nearly 5.5 million people are at risk of acquiring cholera, of which more than half are women and children below 5 years.

The risks are particularly high among displaced people and other vulnerable populations already weakened by poverty and poor nutrition.

“The lack of sufficient resources coupled with limited access to health services and absence of timely detection and response to disease outbreaks have challenged our efforts to provide lifesaving response and prevent disease outbreaks in the country,” said Dr Ghulam Popal WHO Representative in Somalia.

“We highly appreciate the Emergency Grant Aid by the Government of Japan; it will help us strengthen the coordination with the Somali Federal Ministry of Health and step up the emergency health and epidemic disease surveillance to reduce morbidity and mortality attributed to epidemic-prone diseases,” he added.

Earlier this year, WHO reported a funding gap estimated at US$4 million required to maintain its lifesaving response to outbreaks, drought, and malnutrition in Somalia.

With this generous grant from the Government of Japan, WHO will be able to enhance the surveillance system for the timely detection and response to disease outbreaks, strengthen prevention measures through vaccination and risk communication, and ensure effective case management and access to health care services, especially for women and children.

The grant will also support the procurement and be prepositioning of essential supplies and lifesaving medicines in all high-risk areas.