Millions in the greater Horn of Africa are facing acute hunger as the region faces one of the worst droughts in recent decades, compounded by years of conflict and instability, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and rising food prices due to, in part, the war in Ukraine.
As families face severe food insecurity, many have left their homes in search of food and water, and pasture for animals.
Large-scale displacement is often accompanied by a deterioration in hygiene and sanitation.
Outbreaks of infectious diseases are a major concern, especially when combined with low existing vaccination coverage and health service availability.
As people become increasingly food insecure, they also must make the impossible choice between food and healthcare, even as nutritional deficiencies make them increasingly vulnerable to disease.
This is particularly true for children, for whom the combination of malnutrition and disease can prove fatal.
With malnutrition and displacement, the need for health services will increase as people become weaker and more vulnerable to disease.
WHO is coordinating with partners in the health sector and beyond to ramp up its response in the region to avert the worst effects of food insecurity and to give people access to the health services they need.
Along with countering the consequences of malnutrition, WHO is helping countries to prepare for outbreaks of diseases like cholera, measles and malaria.
This includes improving surveillance systems for communicable diseases to identify and respond to new outbreaks quickly.
Among affected populations, WHO helps ensure that essential health services like those for sexual and reproductive health, treatment for chronic infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV.
The organization is also providing mental health services as people are at high risk of violence and distress can continue without disruption.