Press Release

Essential Package of Health Services launched in Somalia to improve maternal and child health

06 May 2014

  • Mogadishu, 6 May 2014 – The Somali Federal Government with the support of three United Nations agencies today launched a major new scheme to provide a comprehensive range of free health services to all Somalis.

The Essential Package of Health Services, Somalia’s newly adopted framework for primary health care services, will aim to improve health across the board. The core programmes are - to improve maternal, reproductive, and neonatal and child health; combat communicable disease; improve surveillance and control, including water and sanitation promotion; provide first-aid and care of critically ill and injured; treatment of common illnesses and HIV, sexually transmitted infections, and tuberculosis. 

“The EPHS holds a great promise for child survival and development, and reduced maternal mortality. It will also standardize, harmonize and integrate the basic health care services in the country,” said the Federal Government’s Acting/Deputy Health Minister Dr Ahmed Aden Ahmed. “I want to commend the continued support and collaboration of our UN partners and donor agencies for helping us to strengthen service delivery for the Somali people.”

Two decades of conflict have decimated Somalia’s health sector, leaving the country with some of the worst health and nutrition indicators in the world. An estimated one in five children dies before their fifth birthday. The main causes of death are pneumonia, diarrhoea and measles - as well as infections and other problems in the first month of life. In addition, every two hours a Somali woman loses her life due to pregnancy related complications.

“The UN is committed to support rebuilding Somalia’s shattered health care system. Strengthening our joint efforts to scale-up action on reproductive, maternal, newborn and child survival is an integral step in this effort,” said Phillipe Lazzarini, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia.

The Somali health authorities working with the support of UNICEF, WHO and UNFPA will roll out the EPHS in nine regions across the country. It will ensure a wider range of services, that health facilities are better equipped and open for longer hours and there are an increased number of health care workers.

“The launch of EPHS is another important step in combating maternal and child deaths and illnesses through a collective, complete response,” said Sikander Khan, UNICEF Somalia Representative. “It is the responsibility of us all - donors, UN agencies, the authorities and communities to make this work.” 

The EPHS which is currently supported by the Joint Health and Nutrition programme is also in line with the New Deal initiative, the Somali Compact and the Somali Six Pillar policy for peace building and state-building. In addition, it contributes to the implementation of the Health and Nutrition Policies and the Somali Health Sector Strategic Plan.

“Strengthening the health system is the best approach to improve health outcomes; and the provision of EPHS is a corner stone to saving the lives of mothers and children,” said Dr Ghulam Popal, WHO Somalia Representative

EPHS is being implemented through a range of partners, chosen by the Government, to help take the package to hard to reach areas. 

“EPHS will enable rural and the poor populations benefit from a holistic health package that will provide a base for further strengthened reproductive and emergency obstetric care services,” said Cheikh Cisse, UNFPA Somalia Representative.

The EPHS initiative, which will continue until the end of 2016, will also focus on the development of institutional capacities, through training of health workers, support for policy development and health sector reform.

Read the press release in Somali

For more information, please contact:

UNICEF: Susannah Price

+254 722 719867

WHO: Raffaella Vicentini

+254 716 215170



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