Forty-seven children have died from hunger-related ailments in Banaadir Hospital in the Somali capital, Mogadishu over the last two months.
At least 1,200 children were treated for severe malnutrition at the medical facility in the same period.
Water sources have dried up due to the prolonged drought in Somalia, forcing thousands to drink contaminated water as living conditions deteriorate.
A local radio station has reported that a nine-year-old orphan with her two younger siblings braved a 337 kilometre, or two-week long, walk from Wajid to Mogadishu in search of food and water.
A cholera outbreak has affected nearly 8,000 people and has killed more than 180 so far.
“In most cases the cause of death is dehydration. We are doing rehydration of the child and we give also antibiotics as well because we suspect watery diarrhoea and cholera. This is what we are doing so far,” said Dr Luul Mohamud Mohamed, head of paediatric department.
Banaadir hospital’s paediatric wing is overcrowded with critical cases and the 200-bed government-run facility is overwhelmed.
The hospital receives patients from as far away as Somalia’s Bakool region — which is more than 350 kilometres from Mogadishu — Lower Shabelle region, and from internally displaced persons’ camps around the capital.
“Thanks be to God, since we got here, his situation is improving and slowly getting better. He was put on a drip and is also receiving medication,” said Jeeleey Abukar, who’s grandchild is admitted at the facility.
“The support is coming late and these drought-affected populations already have diarrhoea, they have malnutrition and are already losing lives. What we need is if you are doing the support, it’s better to have early support,” said Dr Mohamed.
In Mogadishu’s Hodan district, a local non-governmental organization called the Somali Relief and Rehabilitation Development Organization runs a feeding centre where children and the elderly receive free food.
There have been reports of mothers facing an agonizing choice over how to divide their shrinking food supply among hungry children.