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WHO: Health Care Services In Somalia Facing Cutbacks

The World Health Organization says its operations in Somalia are running out of cash putting life-saving health services at risk in the war-torn country. WHO says it may have to scale back its activities in the next month unless donors provide funding for vital programs.

The World Health Organization says it only has received eight percent of the $46 million it needs to provide critical life-saving care to Somalis until the end of the year.

WHO spokesman, Paul Garwood, says the agency is on the verge of reducing activities in some parts of the country. And, if this happens, he says the health and well being of Somalis will suffer, especially women and children.

He says access to health care will be greatly diminished, increasing the risk of more mothers dying in childbirth. He says one in six children under age five currently suffers from acute malnutrition and this number is likely to rise. "There is the great fear that one in every seven children will not live to celebrate their fifth birthday if the right kind of funding does not arrive into the health sector. Every day, 7,300 children will have no access to health care leading to serious complications, death and, of course, malnutrition," he said.

Health statistics in Somalia are not good and the, World Health Organization warns, they will get worse if funding is not forthcoming. It says every day, nearly 21,000 people will not be able to get urgently needed medical care.

If the money is not there, WHO says nearly 2 million children under the age of 15 will not be vaccinated against measles and meningitis. It says 9,000 women, men and children may have acute watery diarrhea.

WHO notes Somalia has been at war with itself for almost two decades, with devastating social, economic and humanitarian consequences. It says 3.2 million people or half of Somalia's population now are in need of humanitarian assistance.