—20-month-old Cali was diagnosed with severe acute malnutrition when his mother brought him to the SOS Mother and Child hospital in Mogadishu last month.
Amina’s baby had been suffering from diarrhea, loss of appetite, fever, cough, and he was vomiting constantly. For three months, Amina watched helplessly as Cali became sicker. The nearest healthcare provider to her home is the SOS Mother and Child hospital, which is 90 kilometers away. Amina, however, didn’t have the bus fare needed to make the trip.
Eventually, members of her community pitched in to buy Amina the bus ticket she needed to take her son to the hospital.
“Cali was quickly admitted in the stabilization center where children below six years with such conditions are cared for,” says Dr. Abdullahi Said, who works at the SOS hospital. “The child was severely dehydrated. He was semi-conscious so we inserted a feeding tube through his nose.”
After five days of treatment, Cali was out of danger. He was discharged to the outpatient program where he would be monitored while receiving nutrition supplements. For his full recovery, Amina would have to provide Cali with adequate and balanced foods.
20-month-old Cali sleeps on a hospital bed as doctors discuss his condition.
This will be a challenge for the mother of nine because she has no source of income. The farm animals she once depended on died during the famine in 2011.
Most families in Somalia have been struggling to cope with harsh weather conditions, which have led to poor crop productivity, massive loss of livestock and high food prices. As a result, mothers and children have limited access to nutritional food.
It is estimated that more than 200,000 children under five suffer from acute malnutrition across the country, and over 40,000 have severe acute malnutrition, according to recent data from the United Nations.
Without a proper diet, children like Cali are at risk of stunting or even death. About 137 out of 1,000 Somali children under-five die before reaching their 5th birthday, according to recent data from the World Bank.
Most patients visiting the SOS Mother and Child Hospital are internally displaced persons, returnees and poor families from the surrounding areas. The hospital, which opened in 1988 and has a staff of about 80, caters specifically to children younger than 5, pregnant women and lactating mothers. Services are offered free of charge. The SOS hospital handles about 140 emergency cases like Cali’s every month.
*Name changed to protect the privacy of the child.