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Water-Borne Disease Concern in Somali Flood Areas


In Somalia, humanitarian efforts continue to help the flood victims there. Doctors Without Borders, also known as MSF, is one of the agencies providing assistance.

Robert Miller is the logistics coordinator for MSF/Holland’s Somalia operation. From Nairobi, he gives VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua an update on the situation around Merera.

“We’ve managed to start now to collect much more reliable data. And when I look down at the amount of people that we’re dealing with or hoping to deal with in the immediate area of the MSF/Holland hospital, we’re looking into the region of about 13,000 to 15,000 people in very spread out locations. In our different locations, we have set up like remote controlled clinics, using our MSF staff that are stranded in the floods and using boats to take [them] medical supplies,” he said.

Miller says that there have not been many deaths in the area to date, but he adds, “As the rains at the moment have stopped and the water level is static the big fear is the continuation of the food problem, but also water-borne diseases and water distribution. And we will not be surprised to see outbreaks of watery diarrhea within the next coming week or so.”

The MSF official says that it’s difficult to prevent disease outbreaks because of the lack of access. “We can still get in with fixed (wing) aircraft into the Merera airstrip. The water’s right on the edge of the airstrip, but we still can get in. And one of the big things we’re doing is distributing chlorination tablets along with health education,” he says.

MSF is still unable to use trucks to transport aid, but has had some success using tractors.

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