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Wednesday, 9 October, 2002, 15:35 GMT 16:35 UK
Somali hospital comes back to life
Feeding centre in Somalia
For three years there was no hospital in a 500km radius

The situation is improving in the troubled southern port town of Kismayo, 500km south of Mogadishu, with the restoration of some vital social services.

The Jubba Valley Alliance (JVA), which controls the town, has reopened the main hospital.

MSF-Belgium, which used to run the hospital, left three years ago as several factions fought for the control of the town.

"When MSF left, the hospital accommodated more than 200 patients suffering mainly from gunshot wounds as a result of gun-battle," Abdurahman Haji Ahmed Waldireh, a JVA spokesman, said.

The JVA has managed to reopen the main hospital of the town with the little money it has been collecting as tax from the port, the airport and the main market.

The hospital now has 25 health workers including a new director, while the other 25 members of staff are policemen working full time for the security of the hospital.

Lifeline

More than 970 former combatants have also been recruited as part of the restoration of the rule of law in Kismayo.

Each is paid 1,000,000 Somali Shillings per month (about $45).

During the three years when the hospital was out of operation, the sick had to be evacuated to Mogadishu for treatment.

Somali gunmen
Somalia is controlled by various armed factions

Kismayo hospital is a lifeline for hundreds of thousands of people who live in the upper fertile region of Lower Jubba where malaria is endemic, killing a considerable number of people each year.

In addition to malaria, diarrhoea and tuberculosis are also big killers in this poor region.

The average income is far less than $1 per family of six children, local officials say.

For the first time in more than 12 years volunteers are at work to refurbish and rehabilitate the hospital.

The "help yourself" policy was introduced by the late dictator, Mohamed Siad Barre, to build hundreds of schools and hospitals around the country.

"All the people have volunteered to have the hospital back in operation," Mr Waldireh said.


Politics

Terrorist haven?

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17 Jun 02 | Africa
25 May 02 | Africa
07 Aug 01 | Africa
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