News / Africa

Growing Numbers of Young Children Wounded, Killed in Somalia

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua

In the Somali capital Mogadishu, more and more children are becoming victims of the fighting between pro-government forces and the Islamist militia al Shabab.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says the number of weapon-related casualties at the city’s three main hospitals reached a new peak last week.  Of the nearly 1600 casualties, 46 percent were under age five.

Many ways to wound a body

“Beginning of May, we found the increase in the number of casualties under five and mortalities under five. The main types of injury are burns and shrapnel, blast injuries and bullets,” said Dr. Omar Saleh, a WHO trauma surgeon.

Many of the burns are third degree. Children suffer from disfiguring scars and infection over much of their bodies. One child had a bullet in his head.

“His body,” said Saleh, “is half paralyzed and he’s under five years old. It is a tragedy there.”

Injured children cannot be treated the same as injured adults.

Dr. Omar Saleh, WHO trauma surgeon, trained Somali health workers on caring for wounded children.
Dr. Omar Saleh, WHO trauma surgeon, trained Somali health workers on caring for wounded children.

“That was the main reason actually why I went to Mogadishu,” he said, “Usually, children under five, they have special physiology and anatomy different than adults. And that’s why there should be a different approach.”

Saleh conducted training programs at two of the major hospitals in Mogadishu, which included preparing children for surgery, special surgical techniques, post operative follow-up care and maintenance.

Because a child’s body is not fully developed, care must be taken when administering drugs. “The doses should be calculated carefully, otherwise they will die from the treatment itself,” he said.

Worst cases

“Usually, those third degree burns are a big challenge. They need a lot of transfusions. They need antibiotics. They’re liable to infection, the wound infects, and then septicemia and they die from infection,” he said.

Some children have lost an arm or a leg.

“Imagine a child under five years old who loses his hand or his leg. How is he going to live afterwards?”

None of the children are expected to be transported to other countries for special care or reconstructive surgery. Saleh said the children’s families are too poor to pay for that. However, his training classes for Somali health workers did include skin grafts, cosmetic and reconstructive surgery.

Why so many kids?

There’s a simple reason why so many children are being wounded now in the Somali capital.

“People live in Bakara market. The fighting now in Mogadishu is in Bakara market… one of the cheapest areas in Mogadishu. So imagine the IDPs [internally displaced persons] after the drought…. They come back to Mogadishu to Bakara market and they take their chances just to be able to live there. If some family was killed or something, the next day you’ll find another family staying there,” said Saleh.

The trauma surgeon said international help is needed to fund Somalia’s battered health care system. He said about $60 million has been requested, but so far, only about $16 million has been given by donors.

“This fighting in Mogadishu is far from over. It’s going to continue for some time and we need the international community to pay attention to what’s happening to do something,” he said.

The WHO said that since the beginning of 2011 about 4,000 people injured in the Somali conflict have been admitted to the capital’s three main hospitals.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More