UK Launches £38 Million “Better Lives” Program to Improve Health for Women and Children in Somalia

Published: April 29, 2024

Mogadishu, Somalia (HM) – The United Kingdom has launched a major new health initiative aimed at improving the lives of Somalia’s most vulnerable women and children.

British Ambassador to Somalia Mike Nithavrianakis

The “Better Lives” program, funded with £38 million (approx. $47.5 million) from the UK government, was officially unveiled today at an event held at the British Embassy in Mogadishu.

The two-year program will focus on providing essential health services, immunizations, nutrition support, maternal and child care, and treatment for malnutrition and common childhood illnesses like diarrhea and pneumonia. It will work to strengthen health management capacity at the national, regional, and district levels across Somalia.

Speaking at the launch, British Ambassador to Somalia Mike Nithavrianakis said, “Better Lives is our flagship and innovative health and nutrition programme, which will improve lives for Somalia’s most vulnerable women and children. We’re delighted to be working hand in hand with our partners UNICEF and the Federal Government of Somalia.”

The program will be implemented by UNICEF in partnership with the Federal Government of Somalia, targeting the regions of Banadir, Galmudug, and Jubaland. Other organizations involved include Mercy USA, Trocaire, Save the Children, and Action Against Hunger.

According to a press release from the British Embassy, Better Lives “will deliver high impact health and nutrition services like immunisation, maternal and newborn care, and treatment of malnutrition and common childhood illnesses like diarrhoea and pneumonia to vulnerable women and children.” The aim is to reduce maternal and infant mortality rates in the country.

The launch event was attended by Somalia’s Minister of Health Dr. Ali Haji Adan, the Director General of Health, and other government representatives.

UNICEF Representative Wafaa Saeed welcomed the program, stating, “Somalia’s efforts to reduce maternal and child deaths is complicated by chronic conflict and climate change…Through this programme, we will strengthen the capacity of the health system to provide lifesaving services while prioritising the most vulnerable.”

The Better Lives program builds on a previous humanitarian phase from April 2022 to September 2023, which provided immunizations to over 230,000 children, treated 123,000 cases of severe malnutrition, and enabled nearly 100,000 women to give birth with medical support, among other achievements.

The UK government has identified health as a top priority in its strategic partnership with Somalia, aiming to support the country’s transition to universal health coverage and the implementation of its national health policy.