Resumption impossible in current unstable security After heavy fighting erupted on Oct. 20 in Dayniile, on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) was forced to suspend its measles vaccination campaign in the area. The campaign had been scheduled to last three weeks and to reach 35,000 children. Measles is currently wreaking havoc in Somalia. Some 60,000 have been already vaccinated against measles over the last t months. "Combined with malnutrition, measles is now the main killer of children in Somalia,” says Duncan McLean, head of MSF programs in Somalia. “Only vaccination can stop the spread of the epidemic.”
During the first five days of the campaign, 4,831 children between six months and 15 years old were vaccinated in different parts of Dayniile. But clashes between the forces of the Transitional Federal Government, supported by the African Union Mission in Somalia and Al Shabaab, put a stop to the vaccinations. "As long as the security situation is not stabilized, it will not be possible to resume the vaccination campaign,” says McLean. “And when this happens, we will have to completely rethink our strategy because many people have fled the combat zones. Tens of thousands of displaced people were living in camps in Dayniile, many for a long time and some who had arrived recently from drought-affected regions.” In addition, many people were wounded during the clashes. On Oct. 20 and the day after, MSF teams at Dayniile Hospital received 83 patients who had been injured by gunshots or explosions. Forty one were hospitalized and 11 surgical procedures were performed.
MSF has supported management of emergencies for the hospital in Dayniile since August 2007. Starting this past April, MSF has also supported the treatment of severe malnutrition. Twenty four malnourished children were receiving intensive treatment before the fighting erupted. In most cases, frightened mothers chose to leave with their children; only six currently remain under care. MSF continues to work in the Dayniile hospital and in Mogadishu, where teams provide medical and nutritional assistance to displaced people. MSF has been working in Somalia continuously since 1991 and currently operates 13 projects in the country, including medical activities related to the current emergency, vaccinations and nutritional interventions. In Dadaab, Kenya, MSF resumed operations in 2009, while it also assists Somali refugees in the camps of Dolo Ado, Ethiopia.