The UK has launched the ‘Better Lives’ programme, a new health initiative to improve the well-being of Somalia’s most vulnerable women and children.

This £38m UK government-funded project was officially unveiled today at the British Embassy in Mogadishu, marking a significant step in the UK’s flagship health and nutrition partnership with the Federal Government of Somalia.

“Better Lives” is set to deliver high-impact health and nutrition services, including immunisation, maternal and newborn care, and treatment for malnutrition and common childhood illnesses such as diarrhoea and pneumonia.

The initiative will also focus on bolstering the capacity of regional and district health authorities to effectively lead and coordinate service delivery.

Implemented by UNICEF in collaboration with the Federal Government of Somalia, the programme aims to reduce the number of women dying from pregnancy and birth complications and lower infant mortality rates due to malnutrition and disease.

“Better Lives” will work alongside partners and donors committed to supporting health in Somalia, such as the World Bank, Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM), Gavi, and other bilateral donors.

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The initiative is set to ensure access to critical healthcare services across six regions and 15 districts of Somalia, with the goal of reaching four million vulnerable individuals by 2026.

UNICEF representative Wafaa Saeed highlighted the challenges faced by Somalia, stating, “Somalia’s efforts to reduce maternal and child deaths is complicated by chronic conflict and climate change, which is causing population displacements and disease outbreaks.”

Saeed further emphasised the programme’s commitment to strengthening the health system, saying, “Through this programme, we will strengthen the capacity of the health system to provide lifesaving services while prioritising the most vulnerable. We will strive to ensure that quality support is provided to targeted individuals and that no mother and child is left behind.”