KENYA – The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a record US$123.7 million health emergency funding appeal to reach more than 80 million people including children with life-saving support in 7 countries across the greater Horn of Africa region.

The million-dollar emergency funding appeal seeks to address food insecurity and prevent future food crises at a time when the health and lives of people in the greater Horn of Africa are threatened as the region faces an unprecedented food crisis.

The financing support will help humanitarian organizations to catalyze action on food security and resilience in Africa specifically in the 7 countries across the Greater Horn Region namely Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda.

The funds will be used to strengthen the capacity of countries to detect and respond to disease outbreaks as well as procuring and ensuring the supply of life-saving medicines and equipment in order to prevent avoidable deaths.

According to the World Health Organization, the financing will be used to support the public health agency’s activities towards better pandemic preparedness such as identifying and filling gaps in health care provisions and providing treatment to sick and severely malnourished children.

WHO has already released US$ 16.5 million from its Contingency Fund for Emergencies to ensure people have access to health services, to treat sick children with severe malnutrition and to prevent, detect and respond to infectious disease outbreaks.

WHO cautioned that over 80 million people in the greater Horn of Africa region are estimated to be food insecure, noting that an upwards of 37.5 million people are classified as being in a stage of crisis where people have to sell their possessions in order to feed themselves and their families.

Countries are simultaneously fighting cholera and meningitis outbreaks as hygiene conditions have deteriorated while clean water is becoming scarce and people are leaving homes on foot to find food, water and pasture for their animals, WHO reports.

The specialized agency of the United Nations observed that the African region has become a hunger hotspot with disastrous consequences for the health and lives of its people due to a combination of conflict, changes in climate and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hunger is a direct threat to the health and survival of millions of people in the greater Horn of Africa, but it also weakens the body’s defenses and opens the door to disease,” stressed Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus further called upon the international community to support the WHO’s work on the ground responding to the health threats such as providing treatment for malnourished people and defending people against infectious diseases.

In addition, the financial support will help make basic health services accessible for people living in humanitarian settings such as therapeutic feeding programmes, primary health care, immunization, safe deliveries and other mother and child services.

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