UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- Drought is threatening 1.5 million people in Somalia and less than half of the people in the Horn of Africa country have access to basic health services, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Monday.
WHO announced its efforts to scale up its response in the country amid a severe drought and worsening food crisis.
Some 1.5 million people are believed to be affected by the severe drought and worsening food crisis. More than 400,000 of those people are malnourished children.
"Somalia is now at a critical point as a result of this drought and environmental hazards and lack of basic services," said WHO's regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean, Mahmoud Fikri.
The UN health agency said that it is providing "all possible support" to address the ongoing challenges. That includes sending in rapid response teams to areas of greatest threat. That includes sending medicines and medical supplies to health facilities in drought-affected areas.
Drought conditions are causing epidemic-prone diseases to spread. These include cholera and measles. According to WHO, since early January, more than 6,000 cases of cholera have been reported, as well as more than 2,500 cases of suspected measles.
The United Nations has launched an appeal for 825 million U.S. dollars for the first half of 2017 for the pre-famine response. Of this, the health sector requires 85 million U.S. dollars, including 10 million dollars for the WHO.