The World Health Organization (WHO) has appealed for 123.7 million U.S. dollars to respond to the urgent health needs of millions of people in the greater Horn of Africa facing an acute food crisis until December.
The funds will go toward urgent measures to protect lives, including shoring up the capacity of countries to detect and respond to disease outbreaks, procuring and ensuring the supply of life-saving medicines and equipment, identifying and filling gaps in health care provisions, and providing treatment to sick and severely malnourished children, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement issued in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.
"WHO is looking to the international community to support our work on the ground responding to this dual threat, providing treatment for malnourished people, and defending them against infectious diseases," the WHO DG said.
According to him, more than 80 million people in the seven countries spanning the region - Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Uganda - are estimated to be food insecure, with upward of 37.5 million people classified as being in a stage of crisis where they have to sell their possessions to feed themselves and their families, and where malnutrition is rife.
The Horn of Africa region, beset by conflict, changes in climate, and the COVID-19 pandemic, has become a hunger hotspot with devastating consequences for the health and lives of its people.
WHO said it has already released 16.5 million dollars from its Contingency Fund for Emergencies to ensure people have access to health services, treat sick children with severe malnutrition, and prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease outbreaks.
It warned that the situation is worsening with the upcoming rainy season expected to fail amid reports of avoidable deaths among children and women in childbirth.
Michael Ryan, executive director of WHO's Health Emergencies Program, said services like therapeutic feeding programs, primary health care, immunization, safe deliveries, and mother and child services can be the difference between life and death for those caught up in these awful circumstances.
"Ensuring people have enough to eat is central. Ensuring that they have safe water is central. But in situations like these, access to basic health services is also central," Ryan said.