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The health worker saving lives

25 November 2022, Impact of Our Work, Voices from the Field, Climate

Muna’s work is a matter of life and death for children

It’s emotional, exhausting, and at times it feels never-ending. But as Muna walks along the dusty road for a day of work, she’s motivated by a love for what she does. 

As a Save the Children health worker, Muna goes door to door every day in the displacement camp where she lives in Somalia. She visits the makeshift shelters that serve as homes to families who have arrived here in search of food and water, and a way to survive the Horn of Africa’s worst drought in 40 years. 

These families have lost their homes and livelihoods and are now stranded far from hospitals, creating a deadly crisis for their children who are increasingly falling ill due to the challenging living conditions in the camp.

Bringing critical healthcare to children

Seeing how children were suffering in the camp, Muna has dedicated years of her life to bring to them critical health care. She’s been doing this lifesaving work for the past 17 years, and on every home visit she’s ever watchful for any symptom that can indicate a child’s illness. 

Inside Muna’s bag are basic but effective supplies to fight deadly diseases.

In a bulky backpack she carries the tools of her work – a Mid-Upper Arm Circumference band to measure a child’s arm to detect signs of malnutrition, a timer to measure breaths for pneumonia, a thermometer to check body temperature that indicates infection. These are basic but lifesaving tools that allow Muna to screen a child for preventable diseases that can quickly become deadly if not diagnosed.

In this challenging region, timely diagnosis saves lives. It leads to immediate treatment, which Muna can provide with the available medicines and antibiotics she carries. She can help treat acute malnutrition with her supply of high-nutrient PlumpyNut, a ready to eat therapeutic peanut paste to help children recover. When she screens severely ill children, Muna can make an urgent referral to the available health facility.

The contents of Muna’s bag are provided by the generosity of donors. Without them, Muna is unable to deliver her lifesaving healthcare.

The young lives saved by Muna

During her daily rounds, it’s common to see mothers rush over to warmly greet Muna. They are thankful to this dedicated health worker who works tirelessly to save their children’s lives.

Meet some of the children and mums whom Muna visits during her daily rounds.

Around the world, in tough places like Somalia, multiple crises are affecting children’s health, exposing them to deadly but preventable diseases. As more frequent and extreme weather events due to climate change force more families to move away from their homes to remote displacement camps, health workers like Muna play an ever more critical role bringing lifesaving health care direct to children. 

As Shuun, grandmother of three-year-old Hamda who lives in the displacement camp says, “Muna really cares about the community and helps us a lot. Sometimes we don’t even know our children are malnourished and she helps us. She treats illnesses in our homes, so we don’t have to travel to the clinic.” 

*Names have been changed to protect identities.
Photos: Sacha Myers / Save the Children.


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