A health conference on public health sector development was launched today by the Federal Government of Somalia’s Ministry of Health with support from The World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), and the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (Agenzia Italiana per la Cooperazione allo Sviluppo).
The conference presented the findings of the WHO Service Availability and Readiness Assessment (SARA) finalized recently this year.
The findings will provide planners and decision-makers with the necessary information on key gaps in health service availability and readiness to meet the increasing needs of the population, and help in the formulation of evidence-based decisions.
The conference also focused on key health system issues like regulations for health providers, the accreditation of teaching and health facilities, and the capacities of regional and local health management bodies.
The findings of the health facilities and infrastructure assessment show that the number of doctors, paramedics, and midwives in Somalia remains around 4 per 10 000 population, which is far below the minimum threshold of 23 per 10 000 population.
The assessment also found that health facility density in the country is less than 0.74 per 10 000 population in contrast to the global target of two facilities per 10 000 population.
Years of instability and limited access to health care services across most of the regions of Somalia has increased the burden of ill health among the population and resulted in frequent disease outbreaks. The support provided to the Ministry of Health by WHO, health actors, and development partners between 2015 and 2017 has led to positive health outcomes at the levels of public health and emergency response.
Although the capacities of public institutions in Somalia have significantly improved, the health system is still facing serious challenges regarding inequities in access to quality health care services, supplies of safe drinking-water supply, and health issues related to poor sanitation.
In addition, the ongoing drought has led not only to the loss of life, displacement of population, increased levels of malnutrition, outbreaks of cholera and measles, but also the diversion of resources from development to humanitarian response.
However, the health facilities and infrastructure assessment added to the National Development Plan, National Health Policy, and Health Sector Strategic Plan will provide a significant opportunity for WHO, national health authorities, and all partners to align their support with the priorities identified by the assessment and the national strategic documents.